Another Life Entirely: Six Years in Turkey’s Remote Mountain Villages


When we think of Turkey, the last thing that comes to mind is survival on the bare necessities, utterly detached from the kind of technology that has risen to a state of status quo for many. Turkish photographer Nadir Bucan wandered among the remote mountain villages of Turkey’s Van region for six years, documenting every moment of hardship and beauty in the midst of nature’s unmitigated presence.

For his project entitled, In the Shadow of the Sun, Bucan had this to say: “I moved to the Van region in 2010 to work as a photography teacher at the Yüzüncü Yıl University. Of course I was also aware that Van has witnessed many cultures and peoples and is marked profoundly by its traditional villages, mountains, lakes, and islands. As a photographer this was definitely something I wanted to explore. And then there was the ever-present sun, which the ancient Urartu must have been inspired by when they named the region ‘Tuşba,’ (the city of the sun). And so in 2011, I entitled my project In The Shadow of the Sun, and began to explore hidden lives. I use the word hidden, because once I traversed the steep paths and reached remote mountain villages such as Toreli, Bilgi, and Uzuntekne, I was greeted with a kind of lifestyle very few of us have ever witnessed. I really see these hidden lives as the antithesis of our technology driven culture.

"I really see these hidden lives as the antithesis of our technology driven culture"
The Herd in Single File.
The Donkey Cart.
Lost in the Mist.

The most beautiful moment occurred in the two nights where I was invited to stay in the villagers’ highland tents, which somehow offer battle against the often indifferent forces of nature. My hosts were the colorfully dressed twins who crossed my path on a whim and the three sisters who had taken their horse out to feed in the pasture. They became the protagonists of my most cherished moments.

The Nomad Woman.
The Village.
The Shepherd.
The Shepherd's Eye.
The Women and the Ram.

It’s possible to say that nature dominates the culture of these people and they exist quietly in a place where technology is not superior. They know how to face the harsh natural conditions and are able to satiate every need completely independently. Just as they are not connected to any sort of industry, they are also not the kind of consumer we’re familiar with. One of the things that struck me most was that the profound unease that comes with modern living is entirely absent in these villages. And one of the most important things I learned is that the ideology of human progression, and its consequent technological breakthroughs, have not made humankind happier and have instead decreased genuine and human experiences.”

Kardelen and Her Dog.
The Sisters and Horses.
On the Way Home
The Nomads.
The Tandoor House.

All images © Nadir Bucan
Text by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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