Friday, January 20, 2017

Most Beautiful Pigeon Contest

In pictures: Prize pigeons

BBC  18 January 2017  All photographs by Ismail Ozbek.

In Sanliurfa, south-east of Turkey, a cage full of pigeons sits surrounded by a circle of stools. Nearby, a poster on the wall advertises a now-passed "National Most Beautiful Pigeon Contest". 

Here, they auction the birds to a dedicated band of pigeon keepers and breeders, a pastime that has been thriving for hundreds of years in the region and across the nearby border in Syria.

Ismail Ozbek is one of those breeders. He keeps about 200 pigeons in lofts fitted with alarms and closed circuit TV cameras to ensure their safety. 

Mr Ozbek has given these prized birds lyrical names such as Sari Aynali, Kara Alaca, Kirk Telli and Ispir.

Small bells and strings of beads adorn their feet, and some even wear silver jewels in their feathers.

At auction these birds command high prices, in spite of unrest in the region and the recent clashes between Kurdish insurgents and government troops.

One of the most coveted of Mr Ozbek's birds has a value of 1,500 Turkish lira (£320).

Auctioneer Imam Dildas once sold a pair of pigeons for 35,000 Turkish lira (£75,00). 

"This is a passion, a hobby you cannot quit", said Mr Dildas. 

"I've been known to sell the fridge and my wife's gold bracelets to pay for pigeons."

With the Syrian border just 30 miles away, many of the best birds came across to Turkey as the civil war heightened, causing oversupply, which led to lower prices, but as the conflict escalated, the prices rose once more.

By the end of the auction, Mr Dildas had sold about 13,000 Lira (£2,750) worth of birds. His commission is 10%.

1 comment:

forsythia said...

I can just see the "best birds" leaving Syria, carrying their little suitcases with their jewelry and other accessories.