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The pictures in this gallery were taken during a Sema held at the Galata Melevi Tekkesi in Istanbul on September 28, 1997. The Mevlevihane consists of the ceremonial chamber where the dances take place, a cemetery, cells for dervishes, seperate quarters for the Master, a chamber for silent meditation and an ablution fountain. Pivoting one one foot as they circle the room, right hand facing heaven and the left facing earth, the whirling dervishes symbolize spinning planets revolving around God. The whirling dervishes are members of a sect of Islam called Sufism, and its adherents are Sufis. The Mevelevi sect belongs to the Sunni mainstream of Islam. Sufi denotes an Islamic gnostic or mystic. The root meaning of the word Sufi is either wool, suf,or is derived from the Arabic form of the Greek derivative of "sophos" as in "philosophos". A few centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammed, many Muslims became alarmed at the worldliness in Islam, and many wore coarse woolen garments to protest the rich clothes worn by the sultans and caliphs. The first person to be called a Sufi was Abu Hashim of Kufa who lived during the mid 8th century CE. The whirling dervishes took their name from the famed Sufi mystic, Jelal el-din Rumi (1207-1273).

I used a Nikon 8008 and a Canon Elan IIe on Sensia 200/400, and the slides were scanned on Photo-CD.

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copyright @1997 Tewfic El-Sawy.