two lovers separated during the nationalistic shifts of the balkan wars exchange a handkerchief....again, this follows on from my last post on fabric and ritual...

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Comment by Logan Sparks on January 9, 2013 at 2:09pm

John you raise some very important points and you are in fact right that the description here is very thin. I will admit that this video was more of an after thought in the process of my work in this subject which is at a sort of mid-way point. But I will try to answer because I think its a good exercise:

The First Balkan War was an experience of defeat, by and large, for the Turks. So the sadness of these scenes cetainly fits with that mood/collective memory, the futililty of the loss of life and the seperation etc...As fara s I know Mustafa is not an historical person, but would need to verify that. The two young men seem to be turned away because they are too young to fight, as far as I can tell. The facial hair indicates this, I would say. To the toehr questions, I am not sure and I can only hazard a guest. Not making eye-contact is a loaded gesture in Turkish culture which can be a turning away from emotional intensity or a sign of respect to one higher in the hierarchy (the emotional intensity observation is a more personal one on my part, the hierarchical interpretation is very well established).  I would couple this with her not waving to suggest that it is also a demonstration of emotion to stoically not react to his salute. After all, she is a civilian and a woman and his gesture indicatees something more martial and national than the others riding the train, although I cannot contextualise his life and whether or not this comes in some earlier context ebcause I ahve not seen much of the series. It aired years ago.

In terms of his not wearing a Fez, I suspect it is mostly incidental and shows informality. It is interesting that the young men who were hoping to be able to join the military presented themselves in a more formal way. I recnelty read that alhough we associate the republican period in Turkey with the banning of the Fez, the Fez itself was a part of an earlier Ottoman modernization plan that had aimed to make men wear suits with Fez, rather than turbans (and şalvar dress etc...). I hope that thickens things up a bit!

Comment by John McCreery on January 5, 2013 at 4:46am

Details, details. He hands her a ring. She hands him a handkerchief. I note, too, the way in which the whole video is bracketed by advertising tied to the video by the song that continues through both. To describe this only as the exchange of a handkerchief is far too thin a description.

What is the war to which he is going? How do people feel about it now? Was it a victory or defeat? Did something exceptionally heroic happen? Is Mustapha a known historical figure?

Why are the two young men in red fezzes and black coats rejected while Mustapha is taken? Are they Jews or members of some other unacceptable ethnic group? Is there any significance in their being blue-eyed and clean shaven, while Mustapha is brown-eyed and bearded? What is the significance of the fact that the woman, who has accepted his ring, does not raise her hand to wave goodbye, and why does he salute, when the others on the train are only waving? Why does he not wear a fez? 

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