Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mr. Shaw Visits Smyrna- 1841

"Travels with Henry Shaw"   is an interesting site I invite you to look over. Shaw, born in 1800 in Sheffield, England, arrived at the French settlement on the banks of the Mississippi river called St. Louis when he was nineteen. He opened a hardware store which he developed until his retirement in 1840. Upon retirement, Shaw began his world travels throughout Europe, Asia Minor and the Middle East. 
In St. Louis, Missouri, Shaw's Garden, created in 1851- and still existent- is based on the Royal Botanical Garden outside of London and the Chatsworth garden in Devonshire.
The site includes journal entries from his visits to Istanbul and Izmir which are quite interesting to read.(
Here is a wonderful description of his entry into Smyrna (Izmir) by ship on  Friday afternoon of June 11, 1841.

At last Smyrna lay before us houses interspersed with shady groves of cypress and overlooked by lofty mount Pagus - crowned with the ruins of its fortress - the scene of many a bloody siege in times gone by - was among the first ashore - and soon comfortably lodged at the Pension Suisse - a divan afforded several hours of safeded repose - and taking the precaution to eat little or no dinner retired to rest at an early hour -
In the following days, Shaw wrote about his excursions into the towns outside of Smyrna.
June 13, 1841

Passed the little river Meles by the caravan bridge - winding round the foot of- Mount Pagus with its ruined Acropolis - passed the remains of an immense wall - the road nothing more than a mule path - and very irregular, ascended a rising ground from whence is a fine view of Smyrna and its Gardens - situated a few miles from the bottom of the Buq mountains on all sides - some of which are green and beautiful, with trees to the top - looking to the interior, the country is pleasantly diversified with hill and dale - the ripe grain (for it is now harvest time) contrasts beautifully with the vivid green of the fig and WOWTurkey_MetinCanbalaban_IzmirBucaKizilcullu_RomanAqueducts_2ndCentury_PhotographDate1880almond trees -
Over the Meles are the lofty arches of an aqueduct - double-and resembling the roman aqueduct at the Pont du Gar near Nidmes or the more modern one at Spoleto in the papal dominions - how this could convey water to Smyrna is difficult to see as it is behind the mountains - perhaps ancient Smyrna was differently situated from the present one -
I find it fascinating to be able to clearly see today the places he mentions. I don't know how many times I thought the same things when I passed under the arches. In the next passage he describes Buca, now a close suburb of Izmir.
Soon came to Bugia which is composed mostly of the country seats of the European resident merchants of the city — and very pleasant retired -places they are - situated in gardens surrounded by high walls - there is a Greek church and School - the landlord of the pension suite married his wife here - we called at the mother's a small house, the door shaded by vines - on which the green grapes were hanging luxuriantly - and pretty little flower gardens - there were some smiling little faces - but could not say a word to them more than smile again and take the flowers offered to me - a sad thing not to be able to say a word in the language of the country -
As the sun was getting warm and not wishing to remain at Bugia all day hurried back to the city — by the high or principal road - but a poor excuse for a road - impassable for a wheel carriage of which however there are none - met several families going out - all on gaily equipped asses -
On your gaily-equipped ass?-an amusing expression to modern ears!

In the afternoon went to the outskirts of the upper or Turkish town..
Here he must be speaking about the Hatay or Ucyol district of Izmir where he witnesses the famous religious ritual Shaw's Diary v2_0010dancers known as the Dervish.

- a number of Turks were assembled under the porch of an illbuilt wooden construction - in which was to be performed the religious ceremony we had come to witness - the room itself looked as much like a poor plain negro church without a pulpit as anything I can think of - with gallery all round - one side of which was latticed and entered by another door - this was for the Turkish women - but of them I could see nothing - before the ceremony the men sat cross legged smoking - except such as were washing hands, feet and face at the fountain close by - among the company was a facetious old Turk - who by his jokes made the rest merry - without knowing a word of what was said - soon observed the subject of their merriment - there were some pale faced sleek looking youths - who were evidently the objects of the old mans vicious propensities - and were little abashed by the old mans jokes and the mirth of the others - as stroking his hand and such familiarities plainly indicated -
Vicious propensities?
This was shortly interrupted by the approach of a grave looking personage in a green turban who taking off his shoes entered the temple and ceremonies by prayers and repeated prostrations - he was afterwards joined by others, when the spectators took their places in the galleries - the prayers were at first in a low tone and prostrations moderate - increasing in loudness and violence - this continued near half an hour when about fifty got on their feet - some five or six of the priests remained seated chanting in a loud monotonous tone - those standing up repeated with more or less violence of noise and gesture - until at last they appeared to be seized with a sort of frenzy - bowing the body from side to side and breathing or rather groaning with the utmost violence at last streaming with perspiration for the weather was hot they became exhausted, except some three or four, who I presume more interested than the rest, held out a little longer jumping and yelling Allah like madmen - & the ceremony finished with the din of symbals & tambourines - these are the sect of Mohammedans called Dancing Dervishes - and are held in great respect by all good musselmans -

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