The Whirling Dervishes are men of faith who belong to the Muslim Order of Mevlevi. Their name is a reference to their dancing prayer, known as the Sema Ceremony, during which each Dervish twirls around continuously until reaching a state of trance. With the rhythm set by singing and a few musical instruments, this prayer represents the spiritual rise of the human being to "Perfection". The prior, the Semâzen Dervish, wears a felt cap symbolising the gravestone of his ego. As he twirls, he uncrosses his arms and raises them to the sky. His right hand is turned upwards to receive the divine gifts while his left hand points towards the ground to transmit his gifts from God to the people. Thus you have a sort of floating dance that ends in a prayer for the prophets and the souls of all believers. If you would like to witness this ceremony firsthand, head to the historical Saruhan Caravanserai in Cappadoce.
Dervishes wear white clothing and a red and white cap. Every element has a strong symbolic significance.© © Rene Mattes / EXPLORER
Founded in 1491, this monastery for the brotherhood of whirling dervishes is an important place of Sufism.© Ihsan Gercelman
The dance of the Dervish helps to maintain the physical, psychic and emotional unity of the dancer. It favours the eliminatation of tensions that generally poison the body/mind.© Mehmet Can
The dervishes' three spins around the room symbolise the three spheres that are necessary for the development of the being: science, vision and unity.© Mehmet Can
The dervish is dressed in a long white tunic, the colour of mourning in the East, and a cylindrical camel-skin cap symbolising the gravestone.© © Rene Mattes / EXPLORER