Turkish shepherd realizes dream with stones collection
Postage stamps, old coins and football cards are some of the more usual items gathered by those interested in collecting items as a hobby.
Ahmet Aslan, a shepherd who is originally from Şanlıurfa in southeastern Turkey, has developed his own niche collection; stones that resemble humans and animals. His collection is now on display at the Human Stones Museum, in a disused church in Uzunköprü in the northwestern province of Edirne.
Aslan, 48, began collecting life-like stones eight years ago. Over the years, he has gathered more than 150 stones while herding animals across Turkey.
Aslan’s passion for stones was reinforced when he had read Walt Disney’s reply when asked about how he came up with the idea for Disneyland.
"Everything began with a mouse,” the U.S. animator had responded. “That answer for me turned into the ‘everything began with a stone’ idea,” Aslan told Anadolu Agency.
“It grew and over time it has become the idea for this museum. After I found the first stone, I tried to find their relatives and friends,” he said.
Although not accredited by the Culture Ministry, his Human Stones Museum has the backing of the Uzunköprü municipality, a town appropriately named for its stone bridge.
Aslan launched the project after contacting Uzunköprü Mayor Enis İşbilen and established the museum in an old church converted into a cultural center.
One of his most treasured stones is one that bears a passing likeness to U.S. President Donald Trump.
He was so delighted with the hefty find that he carried it 16 kilometers to join his collection.
Tokyo’s Hall of Curious Rocks has also inspired Aslan. The Japanese attraction opened in 2016 and has more than 1,700 display items.
“We will improve this museum even further. Stones will be my job,” said Aslan, who now works as the collection’s curator.
By 2023, the centenary of the Turkish Republic, he hopes to open the world’s biggest “human stones” museum.
According to İşbilen, fascination with the collection comes from the fact that the stones are not man-made. “These are stones formed by wind, water, heat and cold,” he said.