Challenge Beyond The Borders

This is Reza.

Reza is a member of Qashqai community. Qashqai people are one of the most known nomadic tribes of Iran. They have been known for their braveness and strength. They speak a Turkic language and still keep their nomadic life in southwest of Iran.

We have never been together with Reza in life but our love towards the Turkic culture and nomadic life put us together in a very warm and sincere way.

Reza lives in Gachsaran town of Esfahan city, populated by Lor and Qashqai tribespeople. The family of Reza left the nomadic life and settled to Gachsaran town twenty years ago before they were migrating between the high mountains of Esfahan region and low plateaus of Abadeh city in the south of Iran.

When I told Reza about the idea of making the revival tour of nomadic life, he was more than happy and said that he is ready to support us in any kind of help if possible. Well, we were in the stage of searching some information about famous water skins of nomads, in order to make one, because not only these water skins are extinct but the masters in Anatolia, who were making tanned skins to carry water, had stopped to produce them many years ago or were already passed away. So we asked Reza how to make a tanned skin container in order to carry drinking water in it. He immediately asked his mother who is a very talented weaver, wool spinner, and dyer, but also a person who knows how to obtain leather from animal skin as many Qashqai tribeswomen.

The recipe arrived immediately and we begin to search for a goatskin to be freshly obtained from the animal. In the following days, the telephone rang and it was Reza on the other side. He said that his mother told him “it is difficult for your friend in Istanbul to make it but it is easy for us, let us make two for him and you will send him these water skins as a present for his new job.”

I was more than happy; touched by the sincerity of their heart I was in tears. In following days, Reza sent me some photos of the skin turning out to the leather day by day. And finally, the preparation of water skins was finished. But we have had a big problem. How to reach them to Istanbul! In customs, officers who check the content of the cargo packages coming from abroad leave known and defined objects such as books or shoes after passing them through X-ray machines but a water skin with an empty inner part that could contain any material. So most probably they would pierce the skin to see if some material was hidden into.

We couldn’t find any other idea than smuggling the skins into the luggage of a known person so that we could have them in our hands with any damage.

I called one of my friends, Aytaç, who is a drama teacher in Van city, Iran border to check if he has an acquaintance who makes trade between Van and Urmiyeh, who close cities of 20 kilometers, being one in Turkey, and the other in Iran. He said he has a friend from Urmiyeh whose uncle was a merchant between Urmiyeh and Van so that our Qashqai friends would send the skins to this Kurdish family living in Urmiyeh and their uncle would bring the skins to Van in his luggage.

Said so, the skins were sent to Urmiyeh but they have to be filled put with fresh water each two or three days regularly in order to prevent them to crack and the water should have been changed regularly. So a lot of work! Moreover, the uncle of the family refused to help so that we all have been stayed desperate and sorry, without knowing anything to do to resolve the problem.

But one night… One night, Aytaç, my drama teacher friend received a phone call from a remote village of Van just neighboring Turkey-Iran frontier. The man on the other side of the phone was saying “our respectable teacher, your custody object has been brought to our village from one of our relatives from the other side of the border, we are belonging to Herki tribe, you can trust us, please be assured. The man continued by saying “we have controlled the skins if they have been damaged during the journey and if we would find it so we would make them here in our village from scratch because a promise is a promise.” Aytaç, impressed by what happened, told me about the story with tears and sent the package to Istanbul. In fact the Kurdish family whose uncle refused to carry the skins found a smuggler from their tribe, which has many villages in Van region, gave him the skins and the telephone number of Aytaç, and paid him some money, and the man brought the skins in donkey back, through a walkway in mined forbidden area and delivered the skins and Aytaç’s phone number to the chief of this remote village. The man who called Aytaç was this village’s chief. I was in tears for the second time for these skins. They worth a treasure for me or more than this.

Now I use them in my tours with proud, love and grant. Each time I touch and drink water from them, I do remember my friend Reza and his lovely mother, Aytaç, my friend living in Van, this family from Herki Kurds that I had no chance to meet, but may be one day, this smuggler who put his life for a promise, and this village chief ho showed the gratitude of checking the skins state and who was ready to make two more if they would be harmed. What to say! The world is continuing to turn for the sake of these warm-hearted honest and honorable persons!

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