The Broken Links of History

66There is not any detailed and comprehensive information about the histoıy of the Grand Bazaar, which used to be the world’s trade center at one time. Since there is not a continuous and central record system, the information is obtained bit by bit, from here and there. Writer Emin Nedret İşli is trying to fill this gap. Just !ike many places in İstanbul, d1e histoıy of the Grand Bazaar and d1e tradesmen groups in the Bazaar has not been written yet. The number of the books that are written about this legendaıy place right in the mideile of İstanbul, kept its world trade identity from the days of Byzantine until today, became the “World Trade Center” in the sixteenth centuıy, never lost its conunercial and cultural in1poıtance although it lost its strength over d1e years, is only a few. However, volumes of books should have been wıitten about this impoıtant place. Same anides on the history, architecture and conın1erce of the Grand Bazaar can be seen among d1e other written aıticles about it. However, one of the most difficult topics to find on the Grand Bazaar is i ts social structure. It is interesting that the people who say d1at d1e Bazaar had lost its early qualities after 1970′s, do not have enough information about 1930′s, 40′s and even 50′s. 1954 fire which destroyed everything in the Bazaar might be considered as a reason of this lack of information. One of the impoıtant names who talks about d1is time period is Nurettin Rüştü Büngül. (1) Nurettin Rüştü Bl’mgül who is an antique dealer and expeıt in the Grand Bazaar, tells the following in his aıticle d1at talks about d1e impoıtance of d1e Bazaar, the different groups of tradesmen and Bazaar’s unwritten histoıy: “Aıtisans, inns that are full of tradesmen, shops,traditions, people who walks around, calligraphers, illuminators, miniaturists, jewelers and d1eir branches, silversmiths, gilders, wreckers, buyers, caıvers, jeweleıy pounders,relief makers, inlayers, engravers, sword and knife makers, helmet makers, scissors makers, wood sellers, makers of sticks for leaning against, antique dealers, rug sellers, embroiderers, shawl makers, repairers, mather of pearl sellers, staınpers anel many other traelesmen groups … They all have stories that will make you laugh or cıy, works to leam from or arguments that you will agree with. Beginning wid1 the place where antiques were being solel, I will objectively tıy to explain all the eletails of what actually happened anel how they got eleceived anel cheated. This  Bazaar, which has been called “The Grand Bazaar” or “The Coverecl Bazaar” all along, is right in the midelle of İstan­ bul. The number of the problems of this place is as many as the number of the goocls and people who come in and out of the sixteen gates that open to four different sides.


There hasn’t even been one person to write down their problems; they got blamed for eveıy mistake just because they are the people of the Bazaar; they had to put up with a lot of trouble and autocracy of some bad mannerecl masters just because they were nameel “the traclesmen”. It was so much so that when they sing a song, the rain clrops that eaked from the domes because of disrepair used to be come the rhythm of the song and the winds that flew from the windows were the melody.” It is clear that although Grand Bazaar was completely renovated after the 1954 fire, in 1930′s “the rain that dropped from the domes because of disrepair used to become the rhythm of the song and the winds that flew from the windows were the melody” just !ike toclay.


 Emin Nesret Isli

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