Singing Dervishes in Turkestan
Another Fine Quality Print from Martin2001


Print  Specifics:
  • Type of print: Wood Engraving - Original antique print
  • Year of printing: not indicated in the print - est. 1890s
  • Artist: Wereschagin
  • Publisher: Richard Bong, Hanfstaengl, Berlin.
  • Condition: 1 (1. Excellent - 2. Very good - 3. Good - 4. Fair)
    • Light vertical crease in right blank margin.
  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 15 inches, including blank margins (borders) around the image.
  • Paper weight: 3 (1. Thick - 2. Heavier - 3. Medium heavy - 4. Slightly heavier - 5. Thin)
  • Reverse side: Blank

  • Green color around the print in the photo is a contrasting background on which the print was photographed.
  • 1 inch = 2,54 cm.

The Dervishes of Bokhara live in a settlement outside the town. With them long hair is obligatory, so they can easily be distinguished from their fellow-men. Questioned, they will tell you that Hagar's son, Ishmael, was the first dervish.. Most of them live a life of celibacy; the married ones are those who have joined the order since their marriage. Another name for them is Kalendar, from kalem — ask, and afar = door, because it is their principal duty to beg, and beat at the doors at the same time. They are under the leadership of a dervish-in-chief, who keeps the bag and sends them all over the country to beg, receiving from them on their return all that they have collected during the journey. Sometimes he sends them to travel for a period of one or two years in Afghanistan, in Persia, in Khiva, or in Kashgar. His discipline is said to be very severe, a statement which is hard to believe when one meets them tearing along the streets in noisy troops, singing and shouting like men the worse for drink; one might mistake them for male Bacchanals. I once tempted a party of five to let me photograph them by offering to each a silver coin, but the picture was not a success, as they could not be persuaded to stop singing and swaying their bodies backwards and forwards.

"What are they singing ?" I asked.

"They are praising God," was the reply.

It is strange how much respect the people have for them, considering what a wild, worthless lot they apparently are. I have heard that most of them are dervishes because they are too lazy to work for their bread and prefer to live at the expense of others. They wear a peculiar kind of high cone-shaped cap, lined with black sheep's wool, which hangs down over forehead and neck, and mingles so completely with their lank, dishevelled hair that it is almost impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends. The upper part of the cap is usually covered with green or red velvet. As a money-box for collecting alms, the dervish carries in his right hand a gourd with one end cut off and replaced as a lid, while in his left hand he has always a staff with an iron ring let into the end, which can be used as a rattle to attract attention. His only visible garment is a patchwork of rags with numerous rents through which his bare flesh is partially visible.

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