The Mevlevis, or widely known as the Whirling Dervishes, are a Sufi order originating from Konya in central Anatolia, Turkey.
Their leader, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumî, or Mevlana in short, is a poet and theologian from Persian and Turkish origin, who migrated from actual Afghanistan to Konya in the 13th century. He is sometimes referred to as Rumî (Roman), meaning he was from Anatolia, a land which used to be part of the Roman/Byzantine Empires. The order was founded after his death by his followers, focusing on love, tolerance, worship of God, community development, and personal development through self-discipline and responsibility.
The Mevlevis perform their dhikr (remembrance of God) thru Sema, a dancing ritual involving whirling, from which the order acquired its nickname. The Sema represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to the "Perfection". Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the "Perfection".
The origin of Sema is credited to Mevlana, who, according to the legend, was walking through the town marketplace one day, when he heard the rhythmic hammering of the goldbeaters. It is believed that he heard the dhikr, "There is none worthy of worship but Allah", spoken by the apprentices beating the gold, and was so filled with happiness that he stretched out both of his arms and started spinning in a circle. With that, the practice of Sema and the dervishes of the Mevlevi Order were born, it is said.
The Sema is practised in according to a precisely prescribed symbolic ritual with the dervishes whirling in a circle around their sheikh, who is the only one whirling around his axis. The Sema is performed by spinning on the right foot. The dervishes wear a white gown (symbol of death), a wide black cloak (symbol of the grave) and a tall brown hat (symbol of the tombstone). The symbolism is further accentuated by the position of the hands during the whirling, where the right palm, opened, is turned upwards towards the sky, while the left one downwards towards the earth, meaning taking from God and giving to this world. The ceremonys mystic atmosphere is completed with the accompanying ney, an end-blown flute used prominently in the Middle-East for more than five milleniums.
The Mevlevi became a well-established Sufi order in the Ottoman Empire by realizing a blood relationship with the Ottoman sultans. Many of the members of the order also served in various official positions of the Caliphate. The centre for the Mevlevi order is in Konya, where Mevlana is buried. There is also a Mevlevi monastery or dergah in Istanbul, near the Galata Tower, where the Sema is performed and accessible to the public.
Outlawed in 1925 along with other sects by the founder of the republic, Ataturk during his secular reforms, the Mevlevis were given partial rights in 1954 to perform sema in public. The order is still active in Turkey, currently led by the 20th great-grandson of Rumî.
Taken in Acik Saray in Cappadocia. Cropped, converted into b&w, increased sharpness and brightness, applied retouches.
Sources: I , II , III
Critiques | Translate
JFS (32459) 2012-05-09 22:55
A very special one! Magical i would say...Nice moment masterly captured. Great shot Erdem! The note is very interesting too. Thanks!
SnapRJW (31621) 2012-05-10 0:18
Good Morning Erdem - Really lovely shot. I love the simplicity of the B&W treatment. With the dark BG the focus is concentrated on the posture of the worshipper as he twirls, with arms outstretched and head tilted, under the light. A very good note too, your explanation of the ritualistic dance and costume answers many of my questions. TFS this wonderfully strong shot. Warm regards Rosemary
BennyV (13901) 2012-05-10 0:22
A classic scene, but very well captured. Light balance is perfect. The opening at the top is essential and adds even more dynamics to the scene.
willperrett (7630) 2012-05-10 1:18
The work you describe doing to this image at the bottom of your note has certainly paid off: you have created an excellent minimalist B/W image. The negative space is employed very well to emphasise the subject, and the lighting is superb. Excellent work!
yquem46 (38746) 2012-05-10 2:33
Much elegance in this classic minimalist shot
I like the inclusion of the light shaft at the top of the compo, quite meaningful
Good conversion to b&w
A show that I wish I had time to see when I was in Istamboul
have a nice day
sevy (15365) 2012-05-10 5:00
A perfect graphic shot thanks to this total black background which is putting in only evidence the dancer and the action.
joso (2417) 2012-05-10 7:24
an excellent note to an excellent, perfect working BW photo, the pp-work you put in it was worth
macjake (58782) 2012-05-10 15:59
this one is very unique, we could view 1000 photo's on TE, and not 1 will be like this.
bravo for that fact alone.
love the white subject up at the top, it extends the photo and anchors it.
the lighting is sublime!
wonderful visual and peaceful atmosphere.
dale54 (6683) 2012-05-11 6:24
you have some excellent pic's up on this site.hi erdem.very nice b&w shot,with great contrast,love it! tfs! dr
GFSSD-1 (3735) 2012-05-11 11:14
Yukarısı ile ilgili nefis bir anlatım. Güçlü bir kompozisyon. Akılda kalıcı. Tebrikler
golus (2893) 2012-05-11 12:14
Merhaba Erdem Bey,
Her yönüyle harika, ifade gücü son derece yüksek bir kare. Siyah Beyaz dönüşümündeki mükemmeliyet ve negatif alanın etkin kullanımıyla çok beğendiğim bir fotoğraf oldu. Elinize sağlık. Selamlar,
Waylim (25368) 2012-05-11 17:26
This image is a work of art. I didn't think an image with so much empty black space would work but here it works like a charm, and I love the inclusion of the light source from the open sky light of the top. Really beuatiful. One of your best and the black and white presentation is perfect.
ebingul (1928) 2012-05-14 8:00
Merhaba Erdem bey,
Ustaca çekilmiş artistik bir foto.Işık yönetimi,kadrajı,keskinliği ve SB uygulamasıyla çok başarılı bir kompozisyon çıkmış ortaya.Tebrikler.
ayferaldanmaz (1085) 2012-05-15 13:35
merhaba erdem bey,
tek kelimeyle, muhteşem...
Curious_Eye (1320) 2012-05-29 3:56
A perfect capture. Including only the light source and the Dervish makes for a very powerful image. Love it!
gezimania (6166) 2012-06-07 0:11
Işığın etkisinin en iyi monokrom çalışmlarda ortaya çıktığını düşünüyorum, siz de doğru seçimi yapmışsınız, muhteşem.. tebrikler
geneward2 (624) 2014-07-01 4:32
A highly artistic shot, great work.
- Copyright: Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) (3887)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Black & White
- Date Taken: 2012-04-22
- Categories: Ceremony
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
- Exposure: f/4, 1/100 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Map: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): CLODO's selection XVI, Will's favourites [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2012-05-09 22:20
- Favorites: 5 [view]