Just south of the Girne Gate on Girne Caddesi is the Mevlevî Tekke Museum, devoted to the Muslim sect widely known as the Whirling Dervishes and housed in what is left of a seventeenth-century dervish monastery. The Mevlevî Order was founded in Konya in Turkey by the Mevlana Jelal al-Din Rumi (1207–1273) and quickly spread through Asia Minor. Central to their beliefs was the sema – the characteristic whirling dance, thought to achieve a transcendental forgetting of the self and communion with God, a process that UNESCO has declared to be a “masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity”. The museum depicts the sema in its central hall where a set of mannequins in traditional dress are frozen in time spinning to a mannequin band above. Beyond here are the tombs of past Mevlevî Sheiks, archive photographs, prayer beads and other ephemera as well as a few gnomic quotations that give you pause for thought: “A stingy Vizier is forced to pay a high price to a poor potter” or “The candle Mevlana lights is smaller, but keeps burning long after the others have melted away”. One sums up the whole point of the dervishes – “Mevlana whirls in humble reverence”.

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