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The dervish and the gas mask

[ by Charles Cameron — wall art, sufism and poetry in Istanbul ]


I wasn’t altogether sure, when Zeynep Tufekci tweeted a stenciled image of a whirling dervish (above, right) the other day, that the dervish was in fact wearing a gas mask. Just the fact that the dervish was showing up on a wall during the events in Turkey was interesting to me — and all the more so since Zeynep pointed out that the accompanying slogan Sen de GelCome, Come Whoever you are is from Jalaluddin Rumi, the great Sufi poet and founder of the Mevlevi order of whirling dervishes.

As the photo of a dervish whirling in the park (above, left) shows, however — and I only saw it today — the stencil is indeed the iconization — in protest art — of a dervish in gas mask in real-time Istanbul.

There’s insight to be had there.


The version of Rumi’s poetry that I first ran across lo these many years ago, and to which I return:

AJ Arberry, tr, Mystical Poems of Rumi 1
AJ Arberry, tr, Mystical Poems of Rumi 2

Rumi’s prose:

AJ Arberry, tr, Discourses of Rumi

Rumi’s poetry in the versions that have made this thirteenth century Afghan-born, Persian-speaking resident of Turkey “the best-selling poet in America”:

Coleman Barks, Rumi: The Big Red Book

Rumi’s life, as told within Sufi tradition:

Idries Shah, The Hundred Tales of Wisdom

Rumi’s life, teachings and poetry, in contemporary context:

Franklin D. Lewis, Rumi: Past and Present, East and West

Rumi explored with scholarship and depth:

Anne-Marie Schimmel, The Triumphant Sun
Anne-Marie Schimmel, Rumi’s World
William C Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Reading Mystical Lyric


Come, Come Whoever you are

2 Responses to “The dervish and the gas mask”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    Michael Weaver, having seen the dervish stencil above, very kindly pointed me to another stencil, also from Turkey and also involving the (unexpected) wearing of a gas mask… thereby permitting me to make this DoubleQuote:

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    For more on the dervish and the gas mask, including the full Rumi poem as translated by Coleman Barks, a photo of the dervish stencil in rainbow colors, and a wonderful overview of the “Gezi spirit” as Zeynep Tufekci has found it in the neighborhood forums of Istanbul, see her blog post today, Come, Come, Whoever You Are.” As a Pluralist Movement Emerges from Gezi Park in Turkey.

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