Return to Turkiye: Museums in Bursa …

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travel journals are now at Daveno Travels where I am reissuing them as Director’s Cuts, with full text and previously unpublished photos.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 return trip to Turkiye in 2011.

Bursa became the capitol of the Ottoman Empire during the early 14th century under Sultan Orhan Gazi, who is buried here. The city became the cultural center of the scientific world, and was an important part of the trade routes heading West. In recent times it has become a center for textile and automotive production in Turkiye. There are several museums of note here.

The Turkish Islamic Museum of Arts fills several tiny rooms surrounding an open air courtyard. There is an extensive array of artifacts, each room seems to be themed with either the type of item (coins) or the items’ usage (prayer items). Assuming that a catalog does not wait for me at the end, I start photographing items and making notes, which attracts the attention of a security guard. He motions that it’s OK to take photos, but please do not to lean on the glass.  I take a last look around and wave goodbye, and the youngest guard runs up to me and presents me with an English language Bursa City Guide.  “A gift,” he beams. Twenty minutes later, I had the rest of my itinerary mapped out. Small gestures make such a big difference…

Here are a few of my favorites from this museum.

The Cultural Museum, previously a dervish lodge and then a library, now houses a collection of costumes and textiles. I wander around, completely alone, no guards or attendants in sight. Sunlight streams through the windows and reflects off the cases, which makes photography difficult. I also wondered about UV damage, especially to the metallic thread embroideries. Here are more of my favorites.

I check out the Kozahan (the Silk Bazaar). Built in 1491, it is stocked to the ceiling with every type of silk scarf, apparel and towel you could possibly imagine. A small import shop at the entrance of another han attracts my attention. I pass up a lamp, and the filigree belts which the clerk pulls off the wall for me, also sadly stay behind.

I tour the 17th Century Ottoman House Museum, believed to be the birthplace of Sultan Mehmed. You will find those photos here.

I find the Uluumay Ottoman Costume and Jewelry Museum just minutes before it was scheduled to close. The curator gives me a personal tour of room after room of costumes, textiles, jewelry and other artifacts that he has been collecting for the past 50 years. It is housed in an old Ottoman school, only large enough to exhibit a quarter of his collection. Completely accessorized mannequins of folk costumes from all over Central Asia and the Balkans, are displayed on turntables in glassed off sections of the room. Photography is not allowed and of course these things have not been cataloged. But the presentation is exquisite and had I had more time I would have asked to sit and sketch things. The Hurriyet published an article about this museum the year after I was there.

I spend the rest of the evening wandering around the residential areas, admiring the architecture. I have figured out the high-speed ferry, a 2 hour trip which will return me to Istanbul tomorrow morning.

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