A fascinating new book on a small village in Northern Cyprus has arrived on the literary scene here. Karmi to Karaman, A photographic history of a Northern Cyprus Village from the 1970’s to the present day, compiled by Jean Clark and Corinna Phillips, provides an unusual collection of photographs and paintings of the mountain village of Karaman. Followed over 30 years, the transformation of a deserted and derelict village into a beautiful ‘white village,’ on the north side of the Kyrenia Mountain Range is a delight to the eye.
A group of devoted residents of Karaman decided that it was time to tell the story of the only village in the world that is owned and managed by a Ministry of Tourism.
It was a Greek Cypriot village before 1974, occupied by EOKA members and sympathizers. It was abandoned with the arrival of the Turkish army to protect the enclaved Turkish Cypriots from the murderous EOKA gangs. This is a different view from the pro-Greek EU version, but valid nevertheless. The book itself is quite balanced and describes how it became a community again.
Doesn’t everyone love ‘Before and After’ pictures? This outsize paperback shows dozens of them, a few in black and white for the older photos, but many more in impressive color of later views. The story begins before, continues during, and delights with after photos of the rehabilitation of a village.
The first chapter describes how a Turkish Cypriot, Mustafa Cemal (pronounced Jemal), Director of Tourism in the 1970’s, became fascinated by the shabby, deteriorating village, and worked for years to convince the government that it had an asset that ex-patriots would love to leasehold purchase and restore.
The book continues with maps, photos of narrow winding streets (before and after of the Olive Mill, now converted to a private home), how the church was championed by Nadia Brunton, an Dutch ex-pat who oversaw the rebuilding of the bell tower, the restoration and registration of all of the icons, and its current use as a village center for concerts and meetings.
There are essays and memories by residents, the development of village businesses from the beloved pub to the village store, restaurant and art gallery. An entire chapter is devoted to the work of artists in the village who paint views of village life. Included are some works of Anne Hughes, a beloved friend, whose annual Christmas card is another delightful and unique angle on what many see every day.
The most shocking photos are of the terrifying and devastating forest fire of June 28, 1995. The entire mountain was on fire, it burned through the castle of St. Hilarion, burned some of the village houses, leapt over the main road to Lefkosia/Nicosia and continued eastward, destroying olive groves, citrus groves, pine forests, for miles. The next spring the hills were covered in red poppies. All of the long-term residents remember that with awe, the restorative nature of nature. In the autumn the mainland Turkish army came and planted over one million trees to replace what had been destroyed.
The book is so special, this amazing history of a unique village, it is only for sale in Karaman. The printing was paid for by the Ministry of Tourism, it cannot be sold in any commercial sites such as book stores, no profits to be made, etc. So if you would like your own, I can drive to Karaman, buy a copy, and mail it to you from our Girne Post Office. US checks accepted! Leave a message on our web site, and all will be taken care of!
Karmi to Karaman
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 9 789944 968447
20 Turkish lira (about $12.50 USD)