There are hunclrecls of jewelıy stores in the Grand Bazaar. When my friend Faruk Sevdik, who is the owner of Sevdik Jewelry Store, told me that he was going to Çuhacı Inn I asked him to take me, too. Çuhacı Inn is located right by the Kılıççılar Gate of the Bazaar. After 1999 earthquake, this inn had gone under an extended restoration, -thanks to the dignitaries of the inn-which avoided any risk of collapses and brought it back to life. Most of the gold and silver that we see on the displays are crafted in this inn. We elimbed upstairs from the wide stairs of the inn. We stopped in front of a smail shop; we entered this shop which seemed !ike it was closed and empty from the outside. It was a little shop of 2 mZ (square meters). Mardik Fırat greeted us with a smiling face. When Faruk introduced us to each other, Master Mardik was soıting various golden omaments out on a tray. I jumped right into the conversation. In this tiny shop magnificient works were being done and it was a good opportunity to leam about it. “I am thirty nine years old. I have been in this business for twenty five years.” Faruk interrupted to irıform me and explained, “He does saw work in goldsrnith business.” .. ”Sadekar … He cu ts the inscriptions and figures that he forms on a fiat golden plate with a fretsaw. He forms mountings for the gems.” Upon seeing me looking blankly at his face, he brought a little fretsaw behind the table, showed me and said: “Look, he cuts with this.” Master Mardik began to teli: “I form different crosses out of a plain plaque; I place the drawings on the plaques and cut them. Then, I start smoothing. I dean the bits and pieces that went inside. I make a border araund the frame by soldering. Then, I smooth it again and send it to gilding.” As he was explaining the process to me while holding the plaque and the drawings in his hand, he was also checking if I understood or not. “Since the gold gets scratched while I embroider, it needs to go to gilding.
There, the hole piece gets the same golden color. As for the last step it goes to bumishing.” I felt curious about how he had started this business. Faruk interfered: “You are an Annenian master, right?” Mardik looked at him as if he was surprised that he did not know, but I realized that Faruk had done that to inform me.” “In 1973, we came to İstanbul from Tokat. We were three siblings, two boys and a girl. My older brother is also a sadekar. He works at Çuhaci Inn as well. We used to work together but when he got manied he opened up his own shop.” Faruk teased him: “He’ll get married too if he can find the money for it.” I was surprised that a person like him, who dealed with gold every day and gave it shape and spirit for twenty five years, could not find the money to get maıried. “I started this business as an apprentice in 1978. With the guidance of a relative in Nişantaşı, I came to Çuhacı Inn. It is all known. Inever worked at any other place.” “I leamed this job while working with master Komik and Annan. I am also making pieces for the jewelers in the Bazaar. I’ve been in this shop since 1980. I form mountings for the gems; in adclition, I do sawing and burnishing myself.” As Master Mardik was telling his story, I was refreshing my knowledge. There are people who design, namely who draw the pictures of that jewelry. Then, it is sadekars’ tum. They are the ones who shape and form the naked jewelry which is the metal part. They integrate the pieces by soldering, dean the notches and show extreme care in order for the smallest flaw not to occur. During the work, the reason why a large leather cloth lays on the master’s lap is clearly not to protect his outfit, but rather to collect the gold dust. Master Mardik continued to tell: “Recently, silver jewelry designers started coming. They are traniees from Nişantaşı. I help them to emerge their new designs. I also have my own designs. They are mostly necklaces.” “Some people remain unnoticed in life. They wait to be discovered, we are like that. Everything I produce is handmade. Many people do it by patterns or pressers, I, however, do it by my hands. Finishing is a different craft but
I do that, too. I do it veıy well indeed. The ring does not get deformed. I do each side equally. Normally, sadekars don’t do finishing.” “There is not enough capital. If someone put a kilogram of gold in front of me, you wouldn’t imagine what I could do with it. If only I could get a chance to exhibit what I have procluced.” “I also fi:x smail things upon requests of my acquaintances; however, I don’t touch the things if they are too complicat- ed for me to figure out.” He gave me an example to emphasize how important fate and luck are: “Seven Bıçakçı met Güler Sabanci once. He made her a ring on which was a portrait of a sultan surrounded with some gems. The ring was nice; however, it was the finger of Güler Sabancı as well as the ring that made Master Seven famous. He says: “I wish I could meet one of those people, I wish they usecl one of my designs. That is it for me when people ask ”Who rrıade that!”, and the answer is “Master Mardik”" Meanwhile, the door opened and someone came in. He took his coat off and hangeel it to the wall, he took something out of his pocket anel entrusted it to Master Mardik “To the Friday prayer?” “Yes.” W e gave a brief break to our conversation as the neighbor entrusted his belonging to Master Mardik on his way to the mosque, and then continued again: “This shop was bought for six kilos of gold, but, it cloes not woıth a kilo taday.”
“After the eaıthquake in 1999, Çuhaci Inn was uncler the risk of collapsing. Scaffoldings were set; no one came inside it for six months. Later, money was collectecl anel it was restorecl.” “I woulcl not move to another inn. All my friencls are here. We even used to feed cat. Noone complain in the past but the people starteel complaining, so we sent the cat away. Moreover, finishers anel gilclers all are here, in this inn. This is a place where an almost virgin golcl arrives ancl leaves as a piece of jewelry.”
“A new business sector has evolvecl. New designers come. There are interesting ones among them. It is pleasant to work with them. Meanwhile, we teach the job to trainees, too. I show them how to do sawing anel finishing.” I askecl Master Marelik his hours of business. “I start working at nine in the moming until six or later in the evening. On Saturclays, I work until three in the aftemoon.” He spent his twenty five years in this 2 square meters shop, either smoothing or polishing. He gave shape anel life to the jewelries that both men anel women carry with admiration. He never had much money; however, he cut anel shapecl the golcl however he likecl. I guess I woulcl not be exaggerating if I said that the story of all the appealing jewelries waiting for their customers at the clisplay windows of the Grancl Bazaar is almost the same as the stoıy of Master Mardik