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The best guide in the Kingdom of Urartu, Abdullah Keles 2016.-©2016 TriciVenola

The best guide in the Kingdom of Urartu, Abdullah Keles 2016.-©2016 TriciVenola

A super guy who showed me things I hadn’t known to ask about. He and his wife Derya took me all the way to Van to the museum there. We couldn’t chat much but did fine with Google Translate. Like everyone in the region he’s a whiz with technology.


-©2016 TriciVenola

She has a tidy and clean little restaurant in Adilcevaz and served us wonderful food.


Plein air drawing of stone sheep in Archeological museum in Van
-Man with shield and Kongal dog -Life-sized: A flock of stone sheep at the Archeological Museum in Van. It’s closed for renovation. These are out front in the sculpture garden. I think they’re of Urartu: c3000 years old. And at right, the lions lie down with the lamb.How may mothers’ sons have been bundled up and set on these to play? In three thousand years? A saddled mystery mount -carved dagger on other side. Many sheep have a dagger carved into their sides like decoration Could these have been a form of tribute, with the dagger a pledge to stand together in time of war? -Van 27 April-©2016 TriciVenola

Abdullah and Derya’s adorable two-year-old playing on the sheep. Check out the close- up at top left: If that isn’t a man with a shield and a Kongal dog, I don’t know what it is. The museum, which was being repaired after an earthquake, has since re-located, and I can’t wait to go back and see more.


Double exposure: Sheep grazing on Kef Kales above Ulu Camii’s bricks, and sculpture from this ancient site, with me, at the museum in Van. Very happily drawn on my mother’s 95th birthday
26 April -©2016 TriciVenola

My mother had been gone for 22 years, but I felt her strongly while I drew this. A brilliant day, and gazing up at and drawing the fantastic stone fortress, softened by grazing sheep, filled me with euphoria so strong it was hard not to stop and dance. The mosque’s bricks seemed anticlimactic to such wonders, so I left it blank until I found a photo of myself in Van, standing next to the ancient Urartian bas-relief. From this very site, it shows what they looked like. They held their own against the Assyrian empire, but still vanished about 2700 years ago, succeeded by the Armenians.


In Karaseyh Köy from the new school -©2016 TriciVenola

A shepherd brings the flock home past the raw bricks of the only school in three villages.


A volunteer at the school teaches math and history -©2016 TriciVenola

A volunteer at the school teaches math and history -©2016 TriciVenola

Although this school serves 100 students for three villages, there is not much money. This lady volunteered to teach math and history, since she knows the subjects, but I do not think she is paid. The principal of this school is Omer Keles, my guide Abdullah’s brother. He is dedicated to educating these kids by all means available.


Seçil Ezra at 25 Teachers at Karaseyh’s new school. There’s so little money they are buying the textbooks themselves. -©2016 TriciVenola

Esra was celebrating her 25th birthday with friends in Urfa. “We have to leave now,” she said apologetically, ”to get through Diyarbakir before sunset…” — Three villages, almost 100 children, a new school but hardly any money. It includes a daycare center, English lessons, clean big airy bright classrooms, and a dedicated staff of enthusiastic young teachers, including beautiful Ezra on her birthday. Ömer Keles, brother of Abdullah my guide, is principal.


“Happy to be a shepherd” in Karaseyh Köy -30 April -©2016 TriciVenola

He dropped out of school- said he’d rather be a happy shepherd than study. He’s ten. —
This was relayed to me by a dismayed Ezra. The kid refused to learn to read, even, and his parents allowed him to leave. But he and the sheep do look happy!

A man of substance!
1 May -©2016 TriciVenola

Semsattin owns a hat import business and occupies the house opposite the hotel, which looks out at Kef Kalesi and the lake. He’s a friend of the hotel owner, and showed up well dressed and asked for a portrait. Normally I field such requests, but one look at that moustache, hat and demeanor made me change my mind. He gave me a hat!

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