Grand Bazaar Antiques

62The auctions in Sandal Beclestan which staıtecl in 1915 and was the only center of precious goocl became history. Although currently Sandal Bedestan only has stores, it was the most impoıtant commercial structure of the Fatih period. Nowadays a clifferent and unheard kinci of a “SOLD!” sound jingles in the domes of the bedestan. Let’s look at the way Sandal Bedestan was at one time from a
true Grancl Bazaar !over Faik Kırımlı (*): If you got into this place from the gate in West, you woulcl come across a elimmed anel clark hall on the right. There were a few rug officials in the bureau. The rugs that were presented in auction usec.l to be examinecl by the experts and put asiele until the auction day after determining their kinci and value. You would see garnerecl rugs by the walls in this hall. The entrance of the hall for rug sales was right next to this hall. On Monclays anel Thursclays the rugs which were going to be auctionec.l would be piled in top of each other on the floor. There was seating !ike the ones in theaters in all four sictes of the hall. Rug merchants woulcl especially sit in the front during the auction while others sit at the back. The auctioneer woulcl sit on a high platform with a bell anel notebook anel manage the auction. When the auction startecl, the auctioneer woulcl cletach the name tag which was attachecl on a corner of the rug on top the pile and staıt the auction after he specified the kinci anel value of the rug. The auctioneer usecl to start the auction by cıying !ike: “A prayer rug from Kırşehir. Staıting price is three hunclrecl lira. Who wants to bid’” The auctioneer woulcl wait after he said these things while the traclesmen who were cognizant of elegance of the art of rug were tıying to estimate the value of the rug from far; they sametimes bend over the rug anel touch the wool of the rug and see, falci it upsicle clown anel squeeze it with his two thumbs anel check it thinking “I woncler if there is any cracks or if the woofs are feeble”. Then one of them woulcl raise the biclcling price, and atlıers woulcl follow. The biclcling woulcl go on by a heacl nacl, a notebook that is raised or a similar sign anel the auctionecl good would find its true value. When sametimes a wanted precious rug came for sale, the aLıction woulcl start after the trac.lesmen examinecl the rug well. There woulcl be exciting and tense moments because of the tradesmen who make comments on each other. One day I was watching the rug auctions as I clicl time to time. A big Zara prayer rug with natural macieler anel beautiful colors was being sold. The previous rugs were solcl that day for their true value. When it was this prayer rug’s turn, two of the traclesnıen conıpetec.l with each other. Consequently tl1e price of the Zara prayer rug which starteel with four hunclreclliras went up to four thousanclliras. I knew who one of the buyers was. They were two Armenian brothers who had a shop in me Bazaar.

When the price of the rug went up to four thousanclliras, the younger brother held his brothers arm anel said “For Gocl’s sakeı What are you cloing’” The aleler brother who was staring at the rug on tl1e floor anel kept raising the biclcling price at tlıat moment, ımıele a gesture with his head !ike he meant to say “stand asicle”. That day the prayer rug was solcl for a surprising price. However, I do not remember who won the auction. In this place several kincls of good quality rugs were being sold for cheap. There were big tall display windows lineel by the entrance of this place. Some of the rugs which were going to be sold were displayed in these showcases a week before the auction. Whenever we pass them by, we would see the big number of rugs. One time, again anather prayer rug with white plain base was there. There were border stripes and çintemani (a motif used in Turkish art) motifs on it. The interesting thing about it was that the white base was made of white sheep’s wool while the borders and çintemani was made of black sheep’s wool. lt was a beautiful rug which consisted of two colors. Although I was at the aLıction for this rug that day, I could not buy it. A tradesman purchased it. After a while when I had some money on my pocket, I wanted to buy it. But I was told that they were all sold to America. Rugs were one of the primary commercial goods of the Grand Bazaar and Bedestan since the aleler times. There came a time when the one who collected rugs from İstanbul and Anatolia could not fincl any valuable rugs. Some of the ravenous rug brokers went to wherever there is a mosque and got a dea! under the mask of charity work. They collected all the antique rugs on the floors and covered the floors with newly developed industrial production of green and patternecl rugs. By this way, they captured the precious, even Seljuk rugs. When we went to the mosques for inspection and examine them, we would see Kula, Ladik, Gördes rugs, inform the officials for protection of these rugs. None of these exist today. Consequently, the rug sales in Sandal Bedestan decreased. The valuable items are not brought to the bedestan !ike it used to anymore.

The merchants and tradesmen alsa starteel not to come day by day. The biggest reason of the closure of this place is the lack of merchandise. There used to be furniture display windows right next to the rug display windows. Many kinds of valuable antiques which came from estates or the owners used to be sold in these places. China, crystals, mather of pearl and gold embroidered woods, embroidered cloths, paintings, calligraphy plaques, manuscripts, dressers, special shelves for headpieces, furniture, pianos, ete … were being displayed here. At the end of the display windows, there is a right entrance close to the gate. The big hall in there used to be full of several antiques and furniture. One could go to the hall for sale goods through this hall. This hall was alsa covered with sitting areas on three sides !ike the ones in the rug hall. Auctions were held every Mondays and Thursdays between 13:00 and 18:00. In the day of the auction tl1e goods were put on a big table in the middle, goods were presented after their tags were being read out loud. W e used to come here in out free time and watch the auction. The traclesmen of the Bazaar and collectors used to come and bid on the item they liked. This was a meeting place for acquaintances. If you enter Sandal Bedestan from the Nuruosmaniye Gate, there used to be a display hall and auction sitting area on the left. On the right side, there was a furniture and goods hall. Sametimes there would be a painting that we likeel in that hall, we would accord with the official and purchase the painting before it was auctionecl. I purchased a 120×90 cm sizeel painting for 4000 liras. That painting stayed with me for 7 years. One day Raffi Portakal came to us and wanted this painting. So, we sold the painting to him for 1100.00 liras. Just !ike the rug section, there were no good quality items in the goocls anel furniture hall. Nowaclays people realize the value of antiques, if an item goes on sale, it gets solcl right where it is. For this reason, no itenıs were brought to this place; the ones which were brought were valueless. Some traclesmen who workecl alone came settled here and staıtecl cloing business. As a government entity, Beclestan haci parteel from its lıistorical iclentity. That is why they left the jewelry seetion anel clestı·oyecl this one. They openecl the south gate wlıich was d oseel for centuries anel ınacle this place a paıt of the Grancl Bazaar. If you enter Sandal Beclestan from the N uruosmaniye gate, goods anel furniture woulel be in the hall on the right. When you pass this section, there usecl to be jewelry clisplay windows. Most precious items were clisplayeel in these windows. Jewelıy with diamonds in size of a chickpea, emeralds, rubies, enameled golcl anel silver cigarette cases, snuff boxes, precious prayer beacls, rare enanıelecl pocket watches, fob chains, silver or amber tree mouthpieces, eveıy kinci of silver and golcl items anel ete. were being clisplayecl here and solel between 13:30 anel 18:00 on Monclays anel Thursclays. When we came to the beclestan, we woulcl look at the clisplay windows anel watch the items astonishingly. If we see these valuable jewelries in the 20th centuıy, we can guess what kinds of precious items were colcl in Cevahir Beclestan in the 16th anel 17th century. This was the haunt for the wealthy who were antique collectors anel jewelry traclesmen.

The antiquarians from the Bazaar anel Beyoğlu used to come here anel bid on the items tat they had their eyes on. There haci been many sweet arguments between acquaintances in this hall. One day a Russian silvers clecoratecl with coat of arms were being auctionecl here. Gurkia was an expeıt. He raisecl the price non-stop. Hacı Ömer (Sabancı) also wantecl to buy these silvers. For a moment he macle a gesture to Gurkia in the meaning of “Enough! Stop biclcling!”. “Let me buy it. You can come and ger it from me later on” said Gurkia. That day Gurkia bought these items for three times more than its price. Many of the olcler families usecl to bring their precious goocls here anel sell them. One laely brought some many famil y inherited jewelıy which was woıth a fortune. She watebeci the auction with tearful eyes. That day the pictures of this lady wlıicb was taken whiJe she was cıying were publisheel in tl1e daiJy newspapers. After the jewelry elisplay windows, there is the entrance of amphitheater on the right d ose to the west gate. The items that are going to be auctioneel stay on the table in the nıicldle. T11ere usecl to be seatings on three sic.les. When our society starteel to be interestec.l in antiques in time, goods stopped to be brought here. The ones that were brought were valueless things. When the opposite sicle was knockecl clown anel turneel into a Bazaar, rugs anel jewelries were combined. After a w hile, tbese two types of items statecl to be solcl. It is not possible to find good quality rugs and kilims or jeNelry in here. Especially they brought woıthless anel useless items anel registered them.

They thought that maybe sameone woulcl buy them. What I mean is tlu t there was a serimıs degeneration. Since that was the case, they knockeel this place elown last year. I believe this seetion will also be a Bazaar. Thus only the name of Sandal Beclestan stays but itself became history. Sandal Beclestan usecl to be the center of İstanbul antiques. Every collector usecl to stop by here for sure, anel walk arouncl the halis to fincl something he likes. The antiquarians form Beyoğlu, Zincidi Inn anel Cevahir Beclestan usecl to conıe to this place to collect some merchandise for their shops. Because of the change in time anel the people of our society who realized the value of antiques, goocls starteel not to be brought here. The beclestan was d oseel because of its high expenses anel turneel into a Bazaar.

Faik Kirimli

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