The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the oldest and largest covered markets of the world. The construction of the Grand Bazaar started shortly after the conquest of Constantinople (in 1453) by the Ottoman Turks (Fatih Sultan Mehmet) and was part of a broader initiative to stimulate economic prosperity in Istanbul. It was devoted to trading in textiles and gems near the palace of Sultan Mehmet II.  Today, you can find many treasures there, from precious jewels, gold, leather, spices and many more besides. 

The Turks originated in the steppes of Central Asia, The Seljuk tribe of nomadic people, settled into Asia Minor in the 11th century. So it is no surprise that so much of the culture and treasures from the Turkic people which include Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens, Kyrgyz and Uyghur people. Central Asian people lived their daily lives surrounded by textiles, most of their own making. Textiles defined practically every aspect of their traditional way of life, beginning with a young girl's dowry, through marriage, childbirth, old age and death. 

The textiles and jewellery on show in this exhibition have arrived from Central Asia, mainly Uzbekistan via The Grand Bazaar. The kilims have been woven in Turkey, there are also many pieces that are distinctly Turkish.  Some pieces of jewellery are also from this regions. The thread that combines all of these pieces are the hand that created the pieces. it takes time to print the cloth, spin the silk, dye the yarn, thread the needle and warp on the loom. Whilst all these processes are being done, people come together, work as a collective, exchange stories, and a bit of gossip along the way. Communities and bonds are nurtured. The humble cloth has the power to unite and bring joy.