Doves are the
symbol of peace and devotion to family in Islam whereas
regarded as a symbol of the "Holy Spirit" in
hollowed out into the upper parts of almost all the
valleys and fairy chimneys, generally face east or south
sides of the valleys. Since doves are in need of water
to digest the grains they have already stocked in their
craws, they are also named "the guarding birds of the
fountains". For this reason dove-cotes were hollowed out
near the water sources.
Although most of the dove-cotes in the region of
Cappadocia date back to the end of the 19th and the
beginning of the 20th centuries, there are few examples
dating to the 18th century. These small buildings do not
attract our attention much but are important in terms of
showing us Islamic painting art which is rarely found in
behind hollowing out dove-cotes was not to catch and eat
pigeons but to use their excrement as fertilizer. The
local farmers used pigeon droppings as fertilizers for
generations, and for this reason, a great number of dove-cotes
were hollowed out.
While hollowing dove-cotes, small niches or recesses
carved into 4 or 5 rows for pigeons to land on, on
the three walls of a 5-10 square meter room and when
needed wooden perches were also put across the room.
This can easily be observed with some of the dove-cotes
the facades of which are collapsed. Since dove-cotes
were hollowed out high up into the cliffs, access can be
gained either through a hollowed out tunnel or by a
of dove-cotes is the ones that were originally hollowed
out as churches or monasteries and by closing up the
entrances and the windows, they were changed into dove-cotes.
Some of the best examples for this type are the Cavusin
(Nicephorus Phocas) Church near Cavusin, the Kiliclar
Kusuk Church (of Mother Mary) in Goreme and some
churches in the valley of Karsibucak. We owe the well
preserved frescoes of churches used as dove-cotes to
pigeons, because in this way frescoes were not exposed
to the sun light and were protected from people, since
farmers go into the dove-cotes only once a year and
leave the place rebuilding the wall.
The facades of
the dove-cotes were generally embellished in accordance
with the tradition of the time and in harmony with the
social life; the dyes used were extracted from trees,
flowers, wild grass and soil with ferrous oxide. In
addition to this, the red dye, widely used in decorating
dove-cotes, was extracted from a kind of soil/mud known
as "Yosa" in the region.
According to locals, the white paint is made by mixing
plaster and white of an egg, therefore, animals; such as
martens and foxes, find it difficult to climb up to dove-cotes
to get pigeons and eggs. However, with most of the dove-cotes
on the west side of the Uchisar castle, a simpler method,
trinplate or zinc plates were used.
In the motifs
with dove-cotes decorated with multi-colors, feelings,
thoughts and creativity of the local artists are hidden.
A research done with more than one hundred motifs shows
that Cappadocian artists, lived in the 18th and 19th
centuries, preferred motifs that are simple but also
mystical. The motif of wheel of fortune, that can be
seen on both sides of almost all the dove-cotes found in
the valleys of Goreme, Cavusin and Zelve, is one of the
oldest Anatolian motifs.
the past it was the symbol of four gods of wind, it now
symbolizes the world going round, the destiny changing
and the circle of fate and love. The motifs of tree of
life with a bird and a pomegranate are as widely used as
the motifs of wheel of fortune. The tree of life,
originating from Shaman beliefs, symbolize the way to
the other (spiritual) world and the birds on it are the
craetures guarding the tree and one's company during the
journey. Pomegranate, symbolizing heaven, abundance and
fertility, has been regarded as a holy fruit through the
history. It also indicates that a marriage will last
long, family will become rich and have many children who
will have long lives. Besides the motifs mentioned above,
inscriptions written in Old Turkish are also found at
the dove cove. Those inscriptions generally bare the
date when the dove cove was built, words of "Masallah"
and "Allah" and though very seldom the name and the
occupation of the owner. In the region of Cappadocia,
the dove-cotes are mainly found in the valleys near
Uchisar, Kiliclar and Güllüdere valleys of Goreme, in
the Uzengi valley of Ürgüp, in Balkanderesi and the
valley of Kizilcukur of Ortahisar, and in the valley of
Cat near Nevsehir end in the Soganli Valley in the
province of Kayseri.