The Dervishes of Konya – Photo Essay

The Master from the Sema holding the space.. One by one the dervishes remove their black attire, symbolizing the separation from the ego. The tunic that is exposed is called the hirka and is a very symbolic garment, sewn by the dervishes themselves or passed on. Their white tunics shine with splendor. This white garment has a long sleeveless robe, on top of which is worn a short jacket that is tied at the waist. One of them, the Chief Sema dancer (Semazenbası) “stands at the most honored corner of the dancing place holding the space, and the dervishes pass him three times each time exchanging greetings until the circling movement starts.

At the onset and each stop of the Sema, holding his arms crosswise he represents the number one, and testifies to God’s unity. While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the skies ready to receive God’s beneficence, looking to his left hand turned toward the earth, he turns from right to left around the heart. This is his way of conveying God’s spiritual gift to the people upon whom he looks with the eyes of God. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all mankind, all creation with affection and love.

Here is one of Rumi’s poems to accompany this photograph:

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,

 

 

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