Archive for June, 2009

Isparta- The Land of the Damascena Roses

The town of Isparta is abt 2 hours drive from Antalya, the town right beside the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population of 100,000 people and it is quiet as most of the young people like many towns and villages in Turkey have migrated to the bigger cities to find employment. The Ispartians would have travelled out to Antalya which is an expanding city by the day. The roads in Isparta are orderly and there are not many cars on them. It has the Taurus mountains running through it and the Egirdir Lake bordering it. The Taurus mountains apparently go all the way to the Caucasus. The Damascena rose plantations are on the outskirts of the town. The one I visited spans over 13,000 square kilometres. My friend who accompanied me also brought me to visit her grandparents who lived just opposite the plantations. They are very elderly and have been living in Isparta all their lives… Everyday is a routine for them. They will sit in their balcony drinking tea, then tend to their garden and look after their livestock…They were lively and love reminescing about the past, sometimes with tears rolling down their cheeks. I admire them for their attachment to their town and to their old traditions and I really appreciate their hospitality during my visit there. It was magical for me to just sit opposite the rose plantations and admire the scenery…


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The Uses of The Damascena Rose

This rose is hybrid of the Rosa Gallica and Rosa Moschata. It is a deciduous shrub growing up to a height of 2.2m tall. It is considered to be the Old rose and it has an important place in the pedigree of many other types. The crusader is given credit for bringing this rose from Persia to Europe between 1254 and 1276. This rose is renown for its fine fragrance and it is grown commercially for its rose oil to be used in the perfume industry.

The Damascena rose is used in cooking as a flavouring ingredient or spice. It appears as one of the ingredients in the Morrocan spice mixture. Rose water and powdered roses are used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Rose water is often sprinkled on many meat dishes. Rose powder is added to sauces, and flavouring of desserts such as ice cream, jam, turkish delights, rice pudding and yoghurt etc. In the West, it is used for traditional desserts such as Marzipan.

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Pics of the Damascena Rose


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Turkish Embroidery – Continued Again


More pics of the Embroidery are attached today…

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Turkish Embroidery- Continued

I remembered my Turkish gal friends mentioning that most of their Embroidery go to serve as presents for their friends on birthdays, weddings, housewarming etc… What warmth these wonderful pieces of Artwork will bring to their friends’ hearts. The intricate designs reflect the amount of time, sweat and love these ladies put in to complete the crafts. These Embroidery when displayed in houses bring about coziness and a feeling of relaxation. The emotion will be stronger if outside the individual houses grow fruit trees, flowering plants which are the same motifs on the Embroidery work…

Apparently roses are a hot favourite among the Turks. They appear frequently on their Embroidery work and many Turkish mothers like to name their daughters using the word “rose” (Turkish equivalent is ‘gul’). Moreover, the Turks use the natural oils of roses to make lokums ( Turkish delights- they taste chewy!!! like gummy sweets!!!!), to make washing powders, detergents, colognes, hand soaps, lip balms, and other types of cosmetics. When you step into any Turkish house, you can easily smell the fresh fragrance of roses coming to your nose probably not realising what you are smelling is roses!!! Roses contain anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties, able to boost one’s mood and increase passion in one’s heart. Through my recent trip, I got to learn that there is a city called Isparta in Southern Turkey ( near the famous Mediterranean Sea) that grows the “Queen of Flowers”! This “Queen” is the rare species of Damascena Rose or in short, the Damask Rose which is pinky in colour and it contains the highest concentration of natural oils compared to other species of roses in the world. This species only flowers and blooms in late May-early June and the flowers are picked in the morning when the level of natural oils in it is the highest. It can only be found in the Kazanluk Valley in Bulgaria and in Isparta, Turkey. I felt myself very fortunate to be able to visit Isparta in early Summer as this is the only time I will get to see these unique and exquisite flowers!!!! When I set my foot on this land, you can imagine my head spinning ( in a good way) from the fragrant aroma from these blooms, my heart also beating fast due to the excitement from seeing them! I managed to pluck a few blooms and kept them as mementos! They were placed in the front pocket of my jacket so they will keep releasing a fresh aroma… Needless to say, the Embroidery in the region of Isparta reflects the love and adoration of the people for the Damascena Rose! Ah, Damascena Rose… the “Queen of flowers”…

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Turkish Embroidery

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Today I have uploaded images of the Turkish embroidery work that I greatly appreciated as a follow-up to what I had shared over the blog in my previous post. They are so well-knitted and the colour combinations are very well-matched. I do not expect myself to be able to do such finework due to my personality but nevertheless, by looking at them, it makes me realise the incredible amount of sweat and effort the Turkish ladies had put in to make such masterpieces.

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Nature Crafts-Turkey/ Turkiye

A visit to Turkey really opens up my eyes to the range of crafts the people of Turkey can do. Most women are capable of doing wonderful embroidery ranging from towels, to tablecloths, to cover sofa cushions and TV racks. I was absolutely amazed by their ingenuity, their ability to sew from their minds and imagination. They sew and knit diligently, not complaining. Whenever they get some time to rest from their daily labour, they will sit down, enjoy a cuppa(be it Turkish Tea, or coffee) and start knitting with their hands. The motifs range from cherries, grapes, fruit baskets to roses, tulips and hearts. Certainly, the designs remind you of the lovely country of Turkey and all the wonderful produce of that abundant land! You mention anything to the ladies, they can come up with the designs almost instantly. They are a very hardworking lot, never keeping still till almost 12 am at midnight, all for the sake of their families…Their hands are wrinkled from the toil, never complaining and forever appearing cheerful… I acquired a few pieces of embroidery to keep at home as they brought me a feeling of comfort and peace…

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