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FISHERMAN OF HALICARNASSUS

fishhalToday when Bodrum is one of Turkey’s prime holiday hotspots it’s hard to believe that it was once a place to which those who had fallen foul of the authorities were exiled. Amongst those exiles was a man called Cevat Şakır Kabaağaç who had been born into a well-to-do İstanbul family, the same family, in fact, that produced the artist Fahrelnissa Zeid whose vibrant abstracts are on display in the İstanbul Modern, and the ceramics artist, Aliye Berger.

But Cevat had a hot temper and in circumstances that will probably never be known for sure he shot his father dead in 1914. For that crime he was sent to a conventional prison, but later when he was accused of sedition for writing about Kurdish conscripts who had run away from the army to return to their villages he was punished with three years of internal exile, a story related by his niece the actress Shirin Devrim in her book A Turkish Tapestry: The Shakirs of Istanbul.

In Bodrum the troubled Cevat finally found himself, as many others have done since then. Soon he had established a new life as a painter and writer with a particular interest in recording the lifestyle of the sponge fishermen who then made up much of the local population.

Nicknamed “The Fisherman of Halicarnassus”, Cevat also organized regular cruises along the coastline for his friends, giving birth in the process to what is now known affectionately as the Blue Cruise. Needless to say, when the three years were up he chose to stay on in Bodrum where there’s a bust in his memory in the town centre.

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