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THE COVERED FEAST: Drawing in the Grand Bazaar

HANS There are 13 hans- enclosed, self-contained workplaces- within the Grand Bazaar. You go up or down a twisty little alley, your shoulders brushed by lame, beaded fringe, bunches of shoes and so forth, and come out into a courtyard surrounded by fascinating shops. Many pussycats live in these hans, fed and sheltered by generations of shopkeepers, and never a rat is seen. 

A Cold Day in the Bazaar

Each han has its own personality. This little one, Çukur Han, has a plaque stating it’s 19th Century, but the wall and archway look to be much older. See the carved Roman chunk above the window and the little column shoved in sideways?

Window at Çukur Han ©2010 TriciVenola

I found this when visiting my friends Emin and Nurettin at Nurem in Çukur Han, wholesale traders and manufacturers of suzanis (embroidered tribal hangings), ikat (woven fabric that resembles tie-die), and patchwork.

The Ikat Princes 2011 TriciVenola

The present bazaar boasts its own post office– the PTT– a police department, and modern plumbing, as well as the mosque and fountains which have been there for centuries.

Police, Post Office, WC & Plates

On Fridays, the Imam’s sermon is broadcast, and half the bazaar gets out in the aisles to pray. Rather than prayer rugs the faithful use pieces of cardboard, rising and falling in salaams to Allah, while people step over them and business goes on as usual.

Gulersöy Collection, At the Mosque ©1980 Aydin Eckmen

In 1894 Istanbul suffered a terrible earthquake. The Bazaar lost much of its architecture, which accounts for wonderful pictures like this:

Ic Cebeci Han

Here’s a photo of the upper part of the Bazaar from 1894:

Gulersöy Collection, After the Earthquake, 1894
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