ISTANBUL. THE MEKLEVI DERVISH LODGE and HATS

The Melkevi Dervish Lodge is tucked away just off the Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul on the north side of the Golden Horn. The whole feel of the place and its graveyard is serene and dignified not least after the noise and bustle and trams of Istanbul’s most upmarket shopping street. The lodge is now a museum and explains the history and customs of the Sufic sect. The mosque is quite unlike a conventional one; the main part of the building feels more like a non-conformist chapel with a dance floor.

The Dervishes are known for various things as well as dancing and their music. What fascinated me was the elaborate system of hats each indicating the status of its wearer. Ottoman hats were a big thing anyway. In the beautifully maintained graveyard, the tombstones are each topped with a stone hat appropriate to the position of the deceased.

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