The Art of Rug Making & Ephesus

Sunday 8th June

All of the Turkish Topdeckers outside the iconic Ephesus ruins (what you can see behind is was once the library).
All of the Turkish Topdeckers outside the iconic Ephesus ruins (what you can see behind us was once the library).

Today we do a day trip to Ephesus. It’s the only day I have slept past 8am, indeed I am dead to the world until 10am by which time breakfast has finished.  Our departure is at 1pm.  It is 37 degrees and many are feeling a little shady and not overly stoked to be walking around ruins for two and a half hours.  Still, we are only here once and Ephesus is an iconic spot.
On the way we stop off at a rug making joint to learn the art of weaving. Our host gives us a speedy lesson in his trade.  First, silk cocoons are soaked to loosen the fibres and to encourage them to start unravelling. This is necessary to get the strongest fibres which are the longest.  The silks strands are unravelled using man powered equipment.  The silk is allowed to dry after which it feels like straw.  Only after it has been soaked and dried again for at least a month does it feel soft. At this point the silk is died and then it is ready to be woven with.  Rugs are woven by hand using what looks like a big string board. Our host shows us the difference between a single knot and a double knot.  He explains that double knotting (claimed only to be used in a Turkey which I am somewhat sceptical about) is the more preferable technique because it creates a more durable rug.  He told us how to recognise whether a rug was single or double knotted.  If you look at the rug from one angle, walk to the other end and look at it again and there is a noticeable colour change then you have a double knotted rug.  Only a slight colour change is visible on a single knotted rug.  The most surprising thing I learned was that the rug artists have free reign to design the rug how they choose, not following a pattern of any kind.  This means that no two rugs are the same. What I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around is how the artists end up with a piece that looks perfectly symmetrical and not like a home made pizza decorated by a three year old.  I would have loved to have bought some of his pieces, he was offering a discount and free international shipping, but I am also anxious that my bank balance has taken a bigger hit than budgeted for and I still have six countries to visit.  We all return to the bus empty handed.

Unravelling the silk cocoons into workable threads
Unravelling the silk cocoons into workable threads
One of the weavers hard at work
One of the weavers hard at work

And it seems I took more pictures of rugs than I did a famous ancient city.

Entering Ephesus, we thank the gods for a weather shift; a few drops of rain and a gentle wind a welcome relief from the smothering heat.  The ruins are the most impressive in Turkey and, as far as ancient cities go, some of the best preserved.  Shaggy explains what we are seeing as we go, although, thanks to the heat and the inkling of a hangover, only about 2% of what he said sticks with me:

  • Like most ruins, Ephesus is an ancient Greek city that was captured by Romans and then eventually by Turks. However as soon as the Turks caught it, an earthquake destroyed the whole city.
  • Built in the 10th century, BC.
  • The Roman gods are the same as the Greek gods, i.e. same stories etc, the Romans just changed their names.
  • There is a marble carving of the Greek godess of Victory, Nike.  Her stance and the shape of her wings mirror that of the modern day Nike branding, the shape of the tick. She was their inspiration.
  • Going to public baths was a big deal and very common pastime during times of peace. The ruins show a room with benches around the outside with holes spaced every 50cm.  These are the public latrines used by men and very prestigious women.
  • As if doing your business in public wasn’t enough, musicians also used to perform in the middle do the room. We decided that this also would have been a great way to disguise any unfavourable noises.
  • No joke there was a room called the vomitorium where folk used to go to empty their stomachs so they could go on eating and drinking.
  • There was a secret passageway from the library to the ‘pleasure house’ – no doubt some very happy scholars back then!
  • The library facade is the best preserved and the iconic spot where everyone takes photos.
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All of the following Ephesus photos are courtesy of Juliet.
Godess Nike - see what I mean?
Godess Nike – see what I mean?

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Again, cats, everywhere!
Again, cats, everywhere!

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Imagine being this close to your mate whilst making a deposit!
Imagine being this close to your mate whilst making a deposit!

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Pretty impressive
Me and Lu
Playing up with Lu

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I do believe that's me in the middle there probably telling everyone "I was head of drama at school you know"
I do believe that’s me in the middle there probably telling everyone “I was head of drama at school you know”

Tonight we go out for dinner in Kuşadası town.  Shaggy has told us about a great waffle place so after that, the thought of a main course isn’t even entertained.  I head straight there with some of the other girls.  Covered in fruit, yoghurt and Nutella and coupled with a vanilla milkshake, we are not disappointed.

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Sarah, Emma and me gettin our waffle on
Sarah, Emma and me gettin our waffle on
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