|Lulu and Lucy|
Lake Van (Turkish: Van Gölü, Armenian: Վանա լիճ Vana lich or Vana Lij, Kurdish: Gola Wanê ) is the largest lake in Turkey, located in the far east of the country in Van district. It seems that Van cats have a very ancient lineage indeed, as does the region, and are very much loved by Turks, Armenians, and Kurds, so much so that there are all kinds of legends about them, they are mascots for teams, there is a Van Kedisi research center in the capital of the Lake Van region, and even the government protects them.
Not far from Lake Van is the excavation of Gobekli Tepe, a Neolithic site that is 12,000 years old, which I've been fascinated with. Göbekli Tepe means, literally, "Belly" or "Navel Mountain", and is composed of some 22 megalithic stone circles (only two have been excavated) which were intentionally buried 8,000 years ago, located 2500 feet above sea level at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. Artist and scholar Lydia Ruhle writes:
"Gobekli Tepe means "navel mountain" in Turkish. It is on top of a hill that is the highest point on the windswept Urfa Plain, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This is the area where emmer wheat was domesticated and hunter gatherer cultures settled into agricultural communities. As early as 12,000 years ago, humans spent much time and effort to cut stone and create circular structures with twelve foot tall pillars with carvings of animals, vultures, snakes holding up a roof..........In 2006, I created a Goddess Icon Banner of (a Sheela-na-gig image from the site) and named her Gobekli Tepe. She has been flying around the world ever since. My banner description states:"Navel mountain and navel of the world" indeed. I wrote an article about Gobekli Tepe .........and I felt blessed to be given two magical cats, with such ancient origins, from that ancient part of the world where agriculture began, the "belly of the Goddess".
"Gobekli Tepe is a Neolithic Sheela-na-gig incised into stone on the floor of a rock cut temple which appeared to have ritual purposes.Two standing pillars with lions sculpted in relief protect one of the earliest known Sheelas. Gobekli Tepe, which means navel mountain, is in eastern Turkey near the source of the Euphrates River. Emmer wheat was domesticated in the area. All life comes from and returns to the mother".
|Lucy and Lulu as bookends|
|Akdamar Island and the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Mount Süphan is in background.|
And Lake Van...........how wonderful it would be to go there and see the Van Kedisi, along with everything else.
Apparently Van Kedisi are related to, and sometimes confused with, "Turkish Angora" (or Ankara) cats. A great site with lots of information about Van cats was Turkish Angora Cat (from which I also borrowed some of the photographs here). http://www.turkishangoracat.org/arastirma.aspx?arastirmaId=2
It's been really interesting to see how passionate different groups in the area are about the cats. For example, from the Turkish Angora Cat website:
"About 2 years ago, a disagreement between municipalities of Van and Ankara occurred. And it still continues. Ankara city proudly displayed their logo with odd-eyes “a smiling Turkish Angora’’. This was very insulting for Van municipality and Van cat lovers, as every folk knows that odd eyed cat is a Van, not Angora! Certainly, a problem arose because both of cities see ‘’their’’ cats in very identical ways. Maybe white odd-eyed cat has deep roots in Turkish culture in general? Although both Van and Angora are thought to be odd-eyed white cats, Van municipality feels that Ankara city has no right to claim different eyes for ‘’their’’ Angoras."
|Ankara basketball mascot|
|From the "Van Cat Home and Research Center"|
|Van Cat Research Center|
|Van Cat beauty contest in Turkey|
|What Lucy thinks about it all.......|