Day 2: Shopping in Istanbul

I had arranged to meet someone who was to introduce me to several vendors and we started at 9:00am little realising we would be on our feet till 9:00pm! A long but very fruitful day.

Special Sikke Felt Hat for Tombs

Special Sikke Felt Hat for Tombs

We started by meeting a master craftsman who is famous for making Sikke hats and has made the ones for the tomb of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (‘c’ pronounced as ‘j’ in Turkey) in Konya. I discovered that feltmaking is actually quite difficult as it involves opening up the wool, laying it out with the end object in mind, applying just a touch of soapy water and then rolling it in reed mats. The end products are very impressive and I now have my eye on both Turkish and Kyrgyz felt for the Arastan collection.

We also met several carpet vendors. Turkey has always been a trading point between the East and the West and the variety of carpets you get in Turkey is like nowhere else in the world (apart from now the USA!) I saw very interesting tribal rugs from Saudi Arabia, some stunning Anatolian kilims and some to-die-for carpets form Kayseri and Herike including the Tree of Life shown here. Needless to say some of these will soon be in the Arastan collection.

Met more textile vendors and am in love with these little capes! Saw more suzanis in Turkey than in Uzbekistan, albeit the more common ones. Given the challenges of doing business in Uzbekistan, I asked how these were being exported and was told – the ladies bring them! I can only guess at what that means…

I fell in love with Islamic Art after seeing an exhibition of Turkish antiquities in London a few years ago, with a complete section dedicated to Rumi. Here is just one short verse from his writings:

There is a life in you, search that life,
Search the secret jewel in the mountain of your body,
Hey you, the passing away friend, look for with all your strength,
Whatever you are looking for, look in yourself not around.

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    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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