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x0x Fount of ethnic inspiration

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    [See more at: http://turkradio.us/kapali/ ] x0x Fount of ethnic inspiration By BENAN KAPUCU When Cemil Ipekci describes Istanbul s Grand or `Covered Bazaar,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 23, 2006
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      [See more at: http://turkradio.us/kapali/ ]

      x0x Fount of ethnic inspiration

      By BENAN KAPUCU

      When Cemil Ipekci describes Istanbul's Grand or
      `Covered' Bazaar, his own colours mingle with those of
      this `timeless' and enchanted space.

      "The Covered Bazaar, a covered box", said the modern
      Istanbul poet, Orhan Veli. Doesn't life flow
      differently at the Grand Bazaar? In what other part of
      Istanbul, indeed in what other part of the world, can
      you find so many different times under a single roof? A
      rainbow of colours made up of crimsons, greens,
      purples; objects reflecting different beliefs and
      cultures. Every person who belongs to these lands can
      find a piece of himself in the Grand Bazaar's
      labyrinthine streets. We would like to look at the
      Grand Bazaar from the perspective of the famous Turkish
      fashion designer, Cemil Ipekci, who takes us on a
      journey through history's multiple layers. A journey on
      which we are accompanied by magical spells, trees of
      life, needlework, and chintamani motifs.

      THE OTTOMAN SOUL

      Our meeting place is the Fes Café, one of the Grand
      Bazaar's modern venues.

      Ipekci sips a cup of coffee here every time he comes to
      the Bazaar. He says he likes it because `it reminds
      people once again of the forgotten Grand Bazaar'. The
      Bazaar has a special meaning of course for a designer
      who, throughout the thirty-plus years of his
      professional career, has always interpreted the Ottoman
      in his collections, taking his visual language from its
      synthesis of cultures: `This place nourishes me,' he
      says. `It's also a place that reminds me over and over
      again of my entire life... I was only three or four
      years old the first time I came to the Grand Bazaar. I
      came here every week with my mother and my two
      grandmothers. We always bought something, drank tea and
      then went down to Eminonu.' A habit going back to his
      boyhood days... Ipekci emphasises that he owes his
      unique outlook and his reputation as an ethnic designer
      to the culture he acquired in the Grand Bazaar:
      `Exactly fifty-four years ago I started getting to know
      lots of people and jewellers in the Grand Bazaar, lots
      of stones and old jewellery too. Ottoman mores and
      customs surrounded and shaped me. Who knows, maybe
      that's why I always feel I'm as solid as the Bazaar
      itself.'

      The designer does not believe in rejecting custom and
      tradition in the name of `modernisation' but believes
      that cultures are only enriched if they are
      re-interpreted by the new age. The two separate Abdulla
      shops on Halicilar Caddesi, the avenue of the carpet
      merchants, satisfies this aspiration of Ipekci's.
      `Abdulla brought a new approach to the Bazaar.

      That's why I like his place. The decor and presentation
      are modern but the soaps and towels and the blue beads
      hanging at the door are all exactly as they were in the
      old days...' Leaving Abdulla, we follow Ipekci to the
      shops he frequents. Our next stop is on Terlikciler
      Sokak, the street of the slipper merchants, a shop
      where Afghan and Turkmen goods are sold. Its name,
      Kuyumcular.

      What all they have here! Traditional jewellery made of
      German silver and semi-precious stones, children's
      clothes decorated with seashells and old coins, spice
      boxes...

      These are the pieces Ipekci included in large numbers
      in his 1992 embroidery collection called `Suzeni', a
      Persian word meaning `needlework', a form of decorative
      embroidery that started in Iran and was later picked up
      by the Uzbeks, Turkmens and Ottomans. `Five years ago
      the Uzbeks, Turkmens, Kyrgyz and Tatars started
      reviving our authentic ancient culture. Fifty years ago
      there wasn't anything called Uzbek work, but when you
      stroll through the Grand Bazaar today you can see
      motifs going back to our Asian roots.'

      `IN THE TIME OF THE GYPSIES'

      Each one of these pieces tells a different story,
      expresses different feelings. And this is what
      impresses Ipekci. Pointing out the traces of the
      cultures assimilated and spread by the nomads in the
      lands through which they passed, he explains
      enthusiastically: `Look at these children's clothes!
      This floral motif, for example, is the `flower of life'
      which goes back to the earliest periods of Mesopotamia.
      You can see it on Byzantine gravestones, and in Roman
      jewellery as well.

      And the seashells used as decoration show that half of
      the Gobi desert used to be a sea.' Everything in this
      shop is a source of inspiration for Ipekci's `Sahire'
      (Sorceress) collection, which tells the story of the
      Turks' conversion from Shamanism to Islam.

      The next stop on our Grand Bazaar tour is a shop on
      Perdahcilar Caddesi, Muhlis Gunbatti's place selling
      covers and caftans decorated with needlework. Examples
      of Maras and Selimiye work are brought out one by one.
      He also has an interesting story to tell: `In the
      seventeenth century the Ottoman Sultan sent a wife to
      the Sultan of Malaysia, a woman of Antep who was highly
      skilled in the local technique of embroidery with gold
      thread. She taught everyone in the palace, and
      eventually it became Malaysia's traditional embroidery.

      While we pay a thousand dollars for one piece, over
      there the women do it for five dollars so of course the
      whole world has it done there.

      That's how we gave this art away back in the
      seventeenth century.' As we admire the lovely
      needlework, we notice a `tree of life' motif on one
      300-year-old piece. `This is truly significant,' says
      Ipekci, taking us straight back to our Shamanist roots:

      `We turned from Shamanism to Islam, but we never
      abandoned our beliefs. The god of land, the god of the
      sky, scraps of cloth tied on trees as votive offerings,
      the Chintamani... Its three dots symbolize eternal
      life, and the curving shapes the fertility of woman--a
      talisman exhibiting traces of Buddhism and Shamanism.
      Among Muslims it was worn only by the Ottoman sultans,
      with a prayer embroidered over it. And I find that very
      nice.'

      THE MAGIC OF ANATOLIAN CLOTH

      We turn now to Yaglikcilar Caddesi, a street lined with
      shops selling regional textiles. Ipekci is in his
      element at the Sivas Tokat Pazar at no. 55. Here Murat
      Danis, an old friend of the Ipekci family, sells cotton
      flannels, Denizli `buldan' textiles, bridal gowns and
      trousseau fabrics that he collects from all over
      Anatolia. `I owe my identity as Cemil Ipekci to this
      man!' he says, `with whom I've done business every
      since I opened my first boutique, called Cingene
      (`Gypsy'), in 1974. This shop is my true niche in the
      Grand Bazaar. I buy all my fabrics here. The flannel in
      the clothes I made for Azra Akin was from here. There's
      something magical about these fabrics.'

      `THE EMERALD IS MY STONE'

      At the end of our journey into the different layers of
      history, we turn to the Bedesten, the old market at the
      heart of the Grand Bazaar.

      Selcuk Ipek is a shop where Ipekci listens and learns:
      `Selcuk is very important to me because I get all my
      jewellery, or have it made, here.

      I like the crazy side of everything in life! People who
      work in the arts have to go beyond the mind. And Selcuk
      is like that, he's mad! Like me, he believes in the
      power and energy of stones. We meet here once a week on
      Saturday afternoons. Sometimes jewellery is being made.

      Taking a break here and chatting is like restoring your
      soul...' A talisman of every culture and every belief
      hangs round his neck...

      An original Chinese coin, an Indian `Om' inscription...
      His lucky stone is the emerald: `I've had a huge
      interest in the emerald all my life, ever since
      childhood. The first time I cried as a baby, I stopped
      when I grabbed onto my mother's emerald necklace. I
      have an inexplicable love for that stone. I get lost in
      its green.

      I have a big emerald ring and a collection of emerald
      seals. The emerald is actually a very sacred stone. It
      brings luck, and life...' The Grand Bazaar's `magic'
      too lies in the way it is able to embrace all cultures,
      beliefs and vanishing values. What else could it be
      that binds Cemil Ipekci to this place with such a deep
      sense of belonging?


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