Most of my travel journals are now at Daveno Travels where I am reissuing them as Director’s Cuts, with full text and previously unpublished photos. This is an excerpt from my first trip to Istanbul in 2011.
I’m joined at breakfast by another guest from Australia who is also leaving today. Baha offers to take us to the bazaar to buy suzani (the embroidered textiles that fill his hotel). I don’t think I can cram anything more into my suitcases but the offer is more than the Australian and I can resist.
We arrive at Baha’s favorite textile vendor and are offered tea and seats. We make our selections and are each gifted with a pillow cover. I smile when I notice that the embroidery on mine is incomplete. Baha notices, and pantomimes “needle and thread,” suggesting that I could finish the embroidery myself.
I am also gifted with a black silk ikat headscarf (shown below with a wool shawl I bought at the Topkapi Palace. Sadly, I lost both of these pieces at an event in North Seattle in 2019.)
I photograph a framed goldworked section of an Ottoman robe that is leaning against a wall behind a pile of other things in one of the booths in the Bazaar.
After that shopping expedition, I locate the Ibrahim Pasa Palace, a building that dates back to the Ottoman period which houses the Islamic Art and Ethnology Museum. It’s a treasure trove that would make some of my friends want to move here. One of the centerpieces is a nomads tent, called a kara cadir in Turkish, woven from black goat hair with center pole supports, much like a Bedouin tent.
There were Anatolian kilims here that were woven in one piece, a rare find as they are traditionally woven in two or three sections and then stitched together. Below at left is the style of carpet I was looking at in the shop on my first day in Istanbul (this one from the Caucasus, Central Anatolia-Konya, 18th – early 19th century). I am told that the more borders the carpet has, the higher the value. The $48,000 carpet I was shown on my first day here had 5 borders in addition to it being 90 years old and dyed with cochineal, indigo and saffron. (At center – a Lotto style carpet, 13-14th century, Sultan Alaadin Keybubat Mosque in Konya, with a detail shot of that carpet shown at right.)
A loom with all of the weaver’s tools laid out…
Some clothing and home furnishings, including a reproduction of the interior of an 1800’s Ottoman home. This pair of chopines for hamimi (Turkish bath) also date from the late Ottoman era. Mother of pearl inlay on wood, straps appear to be appliqued and beaded textile. Sorry I didn’t take a closer look to see if it that strap was a felt or woven piece…
After a very full and final day, I return to the hotel. My shuttle is due at 3:30 AM, and since I am the last guest, Baha and I sit and talk in the dining room. We talk about my Facebook albums, and the route my plane would take on its return to Seattle, and if there are sharks in Puget Sound. Cars, and sports, and music. Whatever small talk our tired brains could manage.
The shuttle arrives. Baha loads my book-heavy luggage into the van. He gives me a warm European-style send-off and promise to keep in touch. It has been a remarkable trip, and I will never, ever forget this place…
Read the full account at Daveno Travels.