The Pottery of Avanos

As I mentioned in a previous post, Avanos is the pottery center of Cappadocia, which means the town is filled with lovely family-run pottery shops like this one:


One morning, I decided to wander through town and take a few photos. Along the way, I happened across an older woman sitting in the shade. Our eyes met, and I decided to seize the opportunity to practice my Turkish, so I smiled and said, “Merhaba” (which is essentially all of the Turkish I am comfortable with at this point). She returned my greeting, smiled and gestured into a nearby pottery shop. Why not, I wondered to myself, and I wandered in after her.

The wall on the right side of the shop was adorned with photos, presumably the relations of the woman before me. She spoke a few words, which could have been their names, their relationship to her, or their astrological signs; I am not sure which (probably one of the first two, but you never know). She then walked me down into the rooms where she was displaying her pottery. As we stepped inside, she pulled a well-worn book from the shelf by the door. I only saw the cover for a moment, but it was clearly some kind of tourist book from decades ago. She flipped it open to the page it was always opened to. She pointed at the picture of a man throwing a pot and then to the silver ring on the ring finger of her left hand. “Your husband?” I asked. “Yes,” she smiled. “My husband.”

She then picked up a beautiful round pot and nudged me gently to one side. She then dropped the pot where I had been standing. I, like the sucker I am, gasped. The pot remained intact. She then  gestured that I should stand on top of the thrown-and-as-of-yet-unbroken pot. I stood with one foot on the pot. She steadied me by holding my right arm tightly to her chest. The pot remained intact.

Duly impressed, I began searching for something small to buy. She had, after all, given me quite the show (and I unintentionally made it to second base with her). I picked a small pot-vase-thing that I knew I could cram into my already overfilled and still homeless suitcases. She smiled, filled it with water, and blew into it. The pot-vase-thing chirped like a tiny bird. This neat trick gave me a traumatic flashback to the 2012 Festival of Nations where a million billion school children purchased similar ceramic bird whistles from the Taiwanese booth and proceeded to blow them without ceasing for two days. But that was not this kind woman’s fault, so I went ahead and bought it anyway. It now rests (silently) on my windowsill.

Turkish pot-vase-thing


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