» 1500-YEAR-OLD BYZANTINE HOLE IN THE CEILING

Photo Essay

This photo, of a portal in the ceiling of one of the dim walkways that connect the first level to the second at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, strikes me as a great visual metaphor for what all of the religious and political leaders who’ve put this structure to use since about 537 C.E. have promised and exploited. – (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

This portal in the ceiling of one of the dim walkways that connect the first level to the second at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is as a nice metaphor for what religious and political leaders have exploited this structure for since about 537 C.E. – (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

» NATIVE AMERICANA IN TURKEY AND BEYOND

Photo EssayAt the Dandalos Hotel in Karacasu, near the ruins of Aphrodisias in southwest Turkey, I was surprised to come across this 8-foot-high translucent image of a bygone Native American chief.

Native American chief wall hanging at the Dandalos Hotel in southwest Turkey, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised, since I’ve seen plenty of other images of Native Americana in Istanbul — including a garishly “sexy” Native outfit on a very skinny mannequin in the window of a clothing store in Galatasaray. Why all the Native American stuff? Continue reading

» AFTERNOON PHOTOS IN KADIKOY

Photo EssayKadıköy, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, is a lot less touristy than the parts of the European side near the Galata Bridge. Frankie and I took a ferry over and shot some photos of its buildings, animals and people.

Kadıköy pier view of the Bosphorus at golden hour. – (c) 2014 Boots Natanama

Kadıköy pier view of the Bosphorus at golden hour. – (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

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» MODERN MUSLIM MISCHIEF IN KASIMPASA

Photo EssayI laughed sympathetically as I watched this scene from the ferry I took from Kasımpaşa to Eminönü. The two younger women in these pictures really wanted to throw rocks into the Bosphorus. They weren’t harming anything, except maybe the chances of the couple of people fishing from the dock, who actually caught a nice-sized fish immediately after these women were chastised by the ticket-taker for the ferry.

1. “Is it OK?”

Muslim mother and her children in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

 

2. “Yeah, I think it’s OK. Let’s throw rocks in the Bosphorus over here….”

Muslim mother and her children in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

 

3. “I guess it wasn’t OK.”

Muslim woman and her children in Kasimpasa, Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

» CUSTOMARY İSTANBULIA (AND BONZAI PANIC)

Photo Essay

View of Eminonu, Istanbul, from the water. (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

There are several sites almost every tourist in Istanbul visits, even if they’re the type of tourist who prefers to be called a “traveler.” Here’s a photographic whirl through some of these sites.

The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Carsii)

Tourist at The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Carsii), (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Woman at Blue Mosque, (c) 2016 Brian AwehaliOnce you take your shoes off and give them to your appropriately covered partner to carry in her backpack, you can walk through and appreciate the 400-year-old Blue Mosque‘s majestic lapiz lazuli-lined interior design, or the sight of Muslims from all parts of the world coming to appreciate its grandeur and feel closer to their god. Ceiling of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, (c) 2016 Brian AwehaliThough it’s not the point of the place, it’s also amazing to see how much personal style can be expressed in the modest yet highly varied dress of Muslim women.

Or, if you’re like the guy in the picture above, maybe you can get just the right selfie or check your text messages. Continue reading

» ENGINEERING WONDERS OF DUJIANGYAN: Irrigation & Secret Detention

Photo Essayby Brian Awehali

Dujiangyan Irrigation Park shishi, or Imperial Guardian Lion (石獅), photo (c) 2013 Brian Awehali

Dujiangyan Irrigation Park shishi, or Imperial Guardian Lion (石獅), photo (c) 2013 Brian Awehali

Dujiangyan is a system of irrigation channels largely responsible for the renowned fertility of the Chengdu basin, in southwestern China. This elaborate engineering wonder, built about 2300 years ago, and still in use today, is what makes Sichuan province the most productive agricultural area in China. Most contemporary dams use a big wall to block water, adversely impacting the natural flow of fish and other marine life, but the ancient Dujiangyan irrigation works lets water and fish continue to flow.

I have no idea how old the statue above is (2300 years?), but the colossal millipede nestled in this gargoyle’s ear looks old and big enough to be from an entirely different geologic era.

Dujiangyan is also home to another old and elaborate example of Chinese engineering: the Dujiangyan Detention Facility, one of many outposts in the sprawling Chinese police state. Literally countless dissidents, political activists and otherwise problematically outspoken people have been detained, tortured and interrogated at these facilities.

Dujiangyan Irrigation Park signage, photo (c) 2013 Brian Awehali

Dujiangyan Irrigation Park signage, photo (c) 2013 Brian Awehali

A lot of even modestly well-informed Westerners don’t know about the full scope of China’s police state, it’s laogai prisons or its contemporary forced labor practices. One reason for this ignorance is simply that the Chinese government works very hard to control news and information about its internal security apparatus, but another reason surely has to do with just the sheer size of the apparatus.

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