Istanbul Seventy Years Ago

17The Grand Bazaar is the sum of a hundred bazaars. Eveıy Sunday, it becomes a smail museum, bazaar and theater at the same time. The Grand Bazaar does not stand out with its outlook anel it is impossible to imagine the inside of it by looking at the outside. It is an enormous monument, shapeel irregularly, surrouneleel by lıigh dark walls, covered by hundreds of lead coatecl clomes with holes for sunlight. In the environs of it, no sound is heard and it is assumed that there is nothing but silence anel elesolation behind the walls of this castle until you come near it as close as four steps of elifference. However, as soon as one gets in, one gets amazeel. This is not a monument: lt is a labyrinth with the streets woven by the domes that sit on columns anel arcacles, a real city with smaU plazas and road junctions; gloomy !ike a dense forest, in which a big crowcl waıKiers around. Eaclı of its streets is a market. Cars anel hoı-semen ıide in the midelle of the floating crowcl in these half clark streets. Eveıy inclividual is encirclecl by signs and worels. Greek merchant calls out anel invites people by his gestures; Armenian sells his goods in a more humble manner; Jewish presents his goods by whispering to the ear. Turk sits on his knees on a blanket that he puts in the doorstep of his shop and calls his customers only by his eyes. You hear ten voices calling you “My Lord! Kiıya! Excellency!” Stairways and arcacles, little streets, a convolutecl view of the Bazaar is seen throughout the long halis; shops, goods that are hangeel on the walls anel the domes, merchants who are oveıwhelmed with their work, heavily loacled poıters, convoys of veiled women. This mixed up view is only external. In this enormous Bazaar, eveıything is arrangecl !ike a barrack; repoıtecl and in oı·der. In a shoıt period of time, one can fincl whatever he wants without the help of a guicle. All kincls of traclesmen have a smail area, a sımlll street, a small hall and a sımıli field to themselves. The Grand Bazaar is the sum of a hundrecl small bazaars that you pass through from one to another; fı.ııther more each bazaar is a little museum, promenacle, market anel theater at the same time. People can look at all kinds of things without purchasing tlıem, clrink coffee, speak in ten clifferent languages and come eye to eye with the most beautiful women of the East there. Let’s enter to the place that sells fabrics and garments: First of all, this place is a wealth anel grandeur market which makes the heacls spin anel pockets empty.

18You can stroll among the stack of Bagdad fabrics of gold embroidered silks, ıugs from Karaman, silks from Bursa, Indian tulles, muslins from Bingale, shawls from Madras, Kashmir and Persia and multicolored textiles of Cairo; arabesque embroidered pillows, silk tulles with silver beads, tan and blue striped, light and transparent seanres that look !ike fumes; fabrics woven with ham1ony and audaciousness in the colors of red, green, blue and yellow which are the most rebellious towards the appealing harmonies make your jaw drop. Here we get fascinated to see things from the green, orange and lilac colored under shiıts and gold embroidered handkerchiefs to satin belts which will not be seen by anyone else but their husbands for Turkish women. There are the red velvet kaftans with weasel skin edges, pink silk under wears, under dothes made out of white damasks with silver flower pattems, shining veils with their silver tinsels; Greek, Annenian and Cherkes women’s a thousand different kinds of interesting gam1ents that are decorated with heavy embroidery, dazzling !ike an armor; and in the middle of these stores co! d French and English  fabrics, along with their bad colors, are like the vagrant notes, taken by a tailor white he was taking the measurements, in between the pages of a poem. One of the magnificent paıts of the Bazaar is Kavaflar. In the stores that are arranged in double-tiered rows there is a shoe for eveıy foot that walked in Europe and Asia. Sections are full of amazingiy colored and oddly shaped, embroiderecl, featheıy vetvet slippers; priced from five franks to a hunclred, for the wife of a boatman or a royalty, shoes of all kincls and prices, shoes that will walk on rugs, women’ s h eel ed shoes ma de out of white satin, pearl embroidered slippers for ladies … Foreigners stroll araund this place at most. Especially young European women are seen holding the measurement of a French or Italian foot on a paper in their hands. They cannot desist from being surprisecl when they see that the shoe that they had their eye on is smaller than the measureınent they are holding. In this Bazaar, there are mostly Turkish women witl1 white veils, they are seen ralking to the seliers for a long time, euphonic words of Turkish hearcl with the clear voices caresses the ear !ike a mandolin: “How much do you seli this for?-It is expensive! – I won’t buy it!” The wealthiest and most spectacular Bazaar is Silahçılar(Gun Sellers).

This place is not a market; it is a museum that carries memories full of reservoirs. Right in the midelle of the guns sadelle trees anel sadelle sets made out of red and purple velvets on which moon anel star pattern is embroiclerecl with pearls anel goldthreacl are special to the horses rode by the faiıy sultans of the Arabian Nights when they were going to the golcl city in the clream !anel. Beneatl1 these reservoiı·s, marchlock and flintlock guns, huge Albanian pistols, long Arabian guns embroiclerecl !ike a piece of jewelıy, antique shields coatecl witl1 toıtoise shell and hippopotamus skin, breacieei aımor shiıts from Caucasia, Cossack shielcls, Mogul helmets, aımws anel all kincls of knives anel claggers are hung on tl1e walls. All of tl1e gun seliers are Turkish, mostly aged, tali, anel skinny. One would say tl1ey are from the past by looking at tl1eir faces anel tl1e way they clress.”

In addition to the rumors about the person who built the Grand Bazaar and for what the Bazaar was used, same scientists made same wrong histarical assumptions by looking at the eagle relief on the top of the gate of Inner Bedestan and said that the Grand Bazaar was a structure of Byzantine times. Howeve1~ in an article, written by Reşad Ekrem Koçu, that I got from the archives of Taha Toros, a general description of the Grand Bazaar was made. Fwthermore the answers to these wrong assumptions about the Bazaar’s history were given with scientific and documented information. Moreover, Reşad Ekrem Koçu briejly mentions various verbal statements about the history of the Grand Bazaar and explains the justifications of people who deseribed the Bazaar as Byzantine or Ottoman. Bejare doing all this, he deseribes what Bedestan means and the meanings it has carried throughout the history. He explains why Sandal Bedestan, which was used as an auction arena at the time he wrote the article, was turned into an auction arena and says that things were arranged according to the needs of the time in spite of laosing the structure’s personality.

Reşat Ekrem Koçuş

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