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Shahmaran Glass-bottom Painting

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Ebu Burak

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$201.40

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This product is uniquely designed and handcrafted by the artist. Upon order same model can be reproduced.
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Shahmaran glass-bottom painting was designed by a master from Mardin, Ebu Burak (Tacettin Toparlı), and was produced by the glass-bottom technique. The frame was also designed and produced by the artist. It was thought that each house in the Eastern and South-eastern Anatolia should have at least one “Basilisk” figure – the lord of the snakes - with a half-human and half-snake appearance, which was believed to bring prosperity to households and protected the family members against diseases.

Dimensions: Height 50, width 48.5 cm

Shahmaran which is a legend born in the Mesopotamia lands is among the over-told ancient legends in Anatolia. Shahmaran is a mythological hero depicted as a snake below the waist, and human above. The term shahmaran was derived from the Persian word “şah-ı meran”, which means the lord of the snakes. The story takes place in the Mesopotamia plain. Three close friends make their living by cutting firewood. In the ancient times, Mesopotamia was a forest, where there was no terrain to cultivate. The land took its actual appearance when the trees were cut by people, in order to obtain lands. On their way, these three fellas find a well which is full of honey. They become delighted, because at those times, honey used to be the primary medicine for all diseases. Having been delighted by the illusion of being rich, they make the necessary preparations for collecting the honey and come back to the well. They collect such an amount of honey that they were unable to collect more of it. They swing one of them down the well; he fills the bags with honey and hands them to his friends. At last, they collect all the honey. The two who waited beside the well above decide to cut the shares into two instead of three, and leave their friend in the well. The young man abandoned in the well by his friends kneels down with sorrow and starts to think. In the meantime, he sees a light beam and passes to another dimension when he enlarges the crack where the light came from. He becomes exhausted and faints. When he wakes up, he becomes terrified when he sees that he was surrounded by snakes and dragons. At that time, shahmaran depicted above approaches towards him and asks: “what happened to you, the earthling? What are you doing here?” The young man tells it about what happened to him and the basilisk says: “mankind is ungrateful, when it is his benefit; he is not bothered to see other people suffer”. Shahmaran is also an astrologist and can see the future. It sees that its death would come from the young man’s hands, but does not say a word about it. They eat, drink, laugh, tell each other stories, and one day, the young man gets bored and wants to go back home. He tells Shahmaran about his desire. However, Shahmaran would not let him go back home. The young man tries everything to go back to earth and finally convinces shahmaran. However, as shahmaran did not want the others to know about its whereabouts, it thinks of something to prevent the young man from disclosing the place where it lives. It thinks that the young man would not tell anyone about its whereabouts if he gets rich, and sends him to earth with many gifts. The young man returns home as a rich person with diamonds, gold and other precious stones. He has no financial problems anymore. And the time passes. One day, the bellowed ruler of the region becomes sick and doctors from around the region are called. At last, the doctors agree that a piece of the shahmaran’s flesh is required to heal the ruler, and the hunt for the shahmaran begins. They put a price on shahmaran’s head, but the young man would not be cheated with jewellery or money, as he was already a rich man. Having realized that the ruler was about to die from that illness, the vizier thinks of promising candidates things money can’t buy. He promises to award the one who may provide information about the whereabouts of shahmaran with the ruler’s daughter and the vizier status. Unsealing his lips before the stunning beauty of the ruler’s daughter, the young man starts to talk and shows the place where shahmaran lives. With magical words, shahmaran is pulled out of the well on a golden plate, and is cut into three pieces. The young man who wanted to be the vizier drinks the poisonous part of the basilisk called “sem” and dies. The ruler drinks the curing part and recovers. Finally, the last part is thought to have drunk by the doctor who consequently acquired the talent to talk to plants and the knowledge about which herbs and oils were good for which diseases, after which he started to make medicines.



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Ebu Burak

Master Tacettin who is also known as Ebu Burak by the people of Mardin was born in 21 November 1973 as the first of the six children of the family. Having learned the copper mastery from his grandfather and father by means of the mentor/apprentice system, his efforts towards surviving the Basilisk and glass-bottom art made him unique in this field.

It wouldn’t be appropriate to continue without mentioning how the public artist met the bottom-glass art. In Mardin region, when a senior member of the family dies, the younger generation usually sells the belongings of the deceased, sometimes out of necessity, and sometimes due to their inability to look after these belongings. One day, Master Tacettin’s grandfather bought all the belongings of a family which lost its senior member. Among these belongings was a bottom-glass Basilisk which was common in every household and the grandfather hung it to the wall in his workplace, as there was already one hung on the wall of their house. Master Tacettin was 10 years old at those times. He explains his feelings when he first saw the Basilisk with these words: “I used to stand still in front of the Basilisk for 9 hours and it fascinated me”. When the Master asked his grandfather: “What is this grandpa? Everyone has something similar to this in their homes”, his grandfather briefly told him that Basilisk was the symbol of luck and prosperity. When he asked his grandfather if the Basilisk had a story, his grandfather’s answer was “I don’t know”.     

Master Tacettin continues: following this unsatisfying answer and with the curiosity and passion I felt towards an unknown mystery, I started to think about why a person would hang an unknown object on his wall”. The next day, he stood in front of the Basilisk and said: “What am I going to do with you?” He continues: “because of the Basilisk, the business went bad and I my father and grandfather were crossed with me. I tried hard to figure out how it is made and started to examine it thoroughly. At those times, it was hard to find brush, glass and paint. So I cut a piece of glass, put it on the Basilisk figure and started to draw. When I turned in inside out, I said to myself that I was capable of doing this job and left it on the floor. Then, I experienced a recession period and started to think about what I could do. At first, I had to break almost half of the pieces I made, which lasted for 6 months. I always felt that something was missing in the Basilisks I painted and I had some kind of dissatisfaction and a lack of contentment. Until my work took its final form, I ruined quite a number of glass pieces. At first, I gave away the glass bottoms I painted so as to survive the craftsmanship and the Basilisk legend. Nowadays, the setting I desired was formed and people started to buy Basilisks to their houses again”.      

Ebu Burak

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