Tag Archives: Rumi

Konya – the Mevlana Museum

1/12 – Happy to say that the temperature rose to the 30s today, so the ice melted off the streets, and turned the sidewalks to dirty icy slush. Reminds me of growing up in New York…


Today we set out from our apartment in the opposite direction, and it turns out we are only a few blocks from the city. Our street is very quiet, as we are on the far side of the city cemetery.


We haven’t seen headstones like these before.

We’re on our way to see Rumi’s tomb, at the Mevlana Museum. Mevlana means Master, and refers to Rumi. You can see the green spire (tower?) of the museum in the distance. The spire is the same color green as the decoration on the headstones. I looked online, but was unable to discover any info about this.


Here’s a funny thing. At the entrance to the museum is a ticket booth and a sophisticated electronic turnstile. We stand a moment, trying to puzzle out the price of admission, which seems to be 50 lira ($22) plus some sort of museum card. We are mentally figuring what the total cost might be, and that this is the most expensive museum we’ve encountered, when the person in the ticket booth smiles and says the entrance is free. Free? Yes, and hands us two fancy tickets, which we scan to get through the turnstile. Most curious!


Once inside, the first thing we saw was an invitation to visit Rumi’s mom. What a nice thought!image

The museum consists of several mausoleums. We headed to the main building, where Rumi’s tomb is located.


Inside we found the sarcophagi of some of Rumi’s relatives and close followers from the thirteenth century. Sufi turbans decorate each one.


Some look like Sufis seated at prayer.


Rumi’s sarcophagus is covered in golden brocade and the area is beautifully decorated.


The museum contains a mosque, and a collection of illuminated Qur’ans, ranging in size from very large to a little octagonal one the size of a silver dollar.



We saw the Mevlana’s Sufi robe and turban.image

As always, I was attracted to the intricate designs on the walls and ceilings.

The rest of the museum showed us Sufi artifacts, including the instruments played during the whirling dance, and some seriously heavy prayer beads.

The cane-like thing is a chin rest, so Sufis in training could take short naps without laying down!

There were dioramas that showed how Sufis were trained for 1001 days.

As we left the museum, we were invited in for tea at a ceramic shop with gorgeous handpainted plates (my favorite!) unlike those we have seen anywhere in Turkey. The proprietor, Issa, was very knowledgeable and shared much about the Mevlana, Islam, and porcelain.

One of the down sides of backpacking is that we have to resist the urge to buy pretty things, as we can’t carry them around, and shipping cost back to the states is prohibitive. We’ll have to be satisfied with the memory of these beautiful plates…

All streams flow to the sea

From Jim – whirling looks better on video!



Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, known in the West as Rumi, was a 13th century, poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. He inspired the Mevlevi, a Sufi sect known as the whirling dervishes. Sufism is practiced within the context of Islamic culture.

Rumi’s poems have attracted international attention — inspiring many to follow the inner path.

We walk to the Kulturmerkesi (Konya, Turkey), where the dervishes whirl every Saturday night. It is snowing heavily and very cold.

The dervishes file in wearing black cloaks. They bow, are seated, meditate during a vocal recitation and a flute performance.

After ritual bows, they remove their black cloaks, symbolizing casting off the ego.

The Sufi master leads a series of greeting bows, involving about ten dervishes in a circle. The dervishes cross their arms, grasping their shoulders — symbolizing the oneness of God. They then began whirling, in turn, in a ritualized manner.


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Konya – Rumi and the Mevlevi

1/10 – Our friends are asking why we chose to travel to this cold and snowy spot, when we have been trying so hard to avoid winter weather. The answer is Rumi.

For those who do not live with Jim, and may be forgiven for not knowing, Rumi was an Islamic theologian, Sufi mystic, saint and poet who lived in the 1200s and was the inspiration for the Mevlevi, or Order of the Whirling Dervishes. He believed that music, poetry and dance were pathways to God. He embraced all religions. His poetry has been translated into many languages, and is still read, performed and enjoyed today all over the world. His words have graced a thousand posters. His tomb is here in Konya.image

Every Saturday evening, the Konya Kultur Merkezi opens their doors to anyone who wants to experience the Sema, or ritual dance of the Mevlevi. There is no charge. We trudged through the snow and bitter cold to join a hundred others who came to share the experience.


We had witnessed an abbreviated Sema in Istanbul, with three dancers and three instrumentalists. Here there were a dozen instrumentalists and singers, and 25 dancers. The Mevlevi train for 1001 days. During the westernization of Turkey in the early 20th century, the Mevlevi were forbidden to practice. It’s only since the 1990s that they have been permitted to share the Sema in public again.

The Sema starts with a period of prayer and reflection, while music plays softly on flute, strings and drum.


The dancers start with their hands clasped tight on their shoulders, forming the numeral 1 for the One God.


After bowing and receiving a blessing, the dancers begin to spin, unfurling their arms slowly. Their left foot remains in contact with the earth, as they propel themselves around with their right. Their arms reach up toward the heavens. Their eyes remain open. They each whirl at their own rate, not in time with the music or with one another. No one falters. They range in age from smooth-skinned teenage boys to grey-bearded older men. They whirl for a long time, resting briefly between four passages of music. image

Everything in nature revolves, from the motions of the earth to the particles of the atom. By consciously revolving, the Mevlevi seek to ascend spiritually toward the perfect love of the divine. image


At the end of the dance, passages from the Qur’an are read, a prayer is recited for all the departed, and the dancers silently file out of the auditorium.

A peaceful and joyful evening.image