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x0x Reflections of the past

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  • Turkish Radio Hour
    [See the museum s pages at: http://www.tiem.org/] x0x Reflections of the past By Sebahat Gul The increasing rate of urban migration from villages to cities in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2004
      [See the museum's pages at: http://www.tiem.org/%5d

      x0x Reflections of the past

      By Sebahat Gul

      The increasing rate of urban migration from villages to cities in
      Turkey, particularly during the last quarter of the 20th century, has
      swept aside the customs and traditions of centuries. The process of
      radical change can be observed everywhere, from architecture to
      clothing and artefacts to the habits of daily life. Traditional crafts
      have either disappeared or altered beyond recognition. The Museum of
      Turkish and Islamic Arts launched plans to establish an ethnographic
      collection in the 1970s, aware that collecting articles of all kinds
      used in daily life should begin before it was too late. The
      Ethnographic Section could not be opened to the public, however, until
      1983, when the museum moved to Ibrahim Pasa Palace and room became
      available to exhibit the collection.

      Ethnographic items gathered from many parts of Turkey are today
      exhibited in tableaux that illustrate the ways of life to which they
      belong. Visitors are introduced to nomadic, village and town life,
      together with carpet and kilim looms, the materials used to make
      natural dyes and the techniques employed, examples of woven artefacts
      and embroidery, costumes, household articles, handcrafts, nomadic
      tents, harnesses and much more. A tent of the type known as topakev,
      which could still be seen until recent years in the district of
      Emirdag in Afyon, and were used for over a thousand years by both
      Turks and Mongols, is among the exhibits. Such domed tents made of
      felt over a wooden frame were waterproof, warm in winter and cool in
      summer. The frame consists of a circular ring supporting the dome, a
      central post on which it rests, and the derim or drum-shaped section
      which is constructed to collapse with a scissor action for easy

      Felt walls in four or more sections encircle the tent, and these are
      folded back to allow access through the door. Another type of tent
      exhibited in the museum is a kara cadir woven from goat hair. Like the
      topakev, this tent is also waterproof. It was purchased from the
      Sacikara clan of Turkmen nomads who until recently continued their
      nomadic lifestyle in the Toros Mountains of southern Turkey. Such
      tents are still woven today, both by women and by male tent weavers
      known as mutaf. The walls of the tent are attached by wooden pegs to
      the roof, and a rush mat known as dolak or dolama is hung up as a
      windbreak and to keep out dust. Animals like mice and lizards are kept
      out, because they cannot get a footing on the long hairs of the woven

      All the famly's possessions are kept in sacks woven with lengthwise
      patterns which double as cushions against which guests can lean their
      backs. The kilims on the floor of the tent are in designs typical of
      those woven by the Sacikara clan. Carpets, kilims and other types of
      flatweaves have their origin in pastoral nomadic cultures, and go back
      thousands of years. Local plants are used as a source of natural dyes,
      and the motifs and compositions have their roots in very ancient
      times. Village life is illustrated by the main room removed from a
      house in the district of Yuntdag in Manisa. The house, which was built
      of stone, wood and adobe, had been abandoned and was derelict.

      After careful measurement, the room was dismantled, together with its
      carved wooden door, window frame, cupboards and fireplace, and
      reconstructed in the museum. The large cupboard has different sections
      for mattresses and bedding, a wooden chest and two large water jugs.

      On the left-hand side of the cupboard is a small washroom. Ottoman
      town life is represented by a reconstruction of a room in Bursa,
      complete with curtains, a divan with embroidered velvet cover, bracket
      table with mirror, brazier, and fitted cupboard with painted
      decoration. The room contains numerous household articles of the
      period, such as an embroidery frame. The Ottoman capital city of
      Istanbul was the city where westernisation exerted the greatest
      influence on lifestyle, particularly from the mid-19th century
      onwards. In the reconstruction of an Istanbul house, furniture of a
      western type replaces floor cushions and divans. The clothing of this
      period exhibited here is also distinctly westernised in character.

      The Turkish Coffee House looking out onto the courtyard is a part of
      the museusar Ethnographic Section. Here are displayed all the original
      trappings of a traditional coffee house, which was an institution that
      played an important role in Turkish social life for centuries. To
      round off your visit to this fascinating museum, stop by here to enjoy
      a cup of Turkish coffee to the accompaniment of birds singing in the
      trees and surrounded by the ancient buildings of the 16th century

      * Sebahat Gul is curator of the Ethnographic Section of the Museum of
      Turkish and Islamic Arts.
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