My original travel journals were split across August Phoenix Hats and a few other websites. February 2021 marked the 12th anniversary of the beginning of my travels. To celebrate, I’m reissuing my journals as Director’s Cuts, with the complete text as well as larger and additional photos. My Crossroads Tour series details my travels to Florence, Genoa and Istanbul in May 2011.
I spent my last day in Istanbul at the Ibrahim Pasa Palace, said to be one of the great surviving palaces in Istanbul dating to the Ottoman period. It’s also the home of the Islamic Art and Ethnology Museum.
It’s a treasure trove that would make my friends Sunjan, Kerij-e and Khalja want to move here. One of the first things I see is a nomads tent, called a kara cadir in Turkish, with a cover woven from black goat hair and a roof ring with center pole supports, much like a Bedouin tent. The yurta bands are visible as they lay across the roof poles, although normally they would be holding layers of felts over the roof.
There are fun things like faucets and women’s chopines from the late Ottoman period. Kor’ans that I could not bring myself to photograph. Anatolian kilims that were woven in one piece, a rare find as they are traditionally woven in two or three sections and then stitched together. Below is a reconstruction of an 1800’s Ottoman home in Bursa. Wood and brick, covered with plaster and painted saffron. (Little did I realize that a future trip would take me to Bursa, where I found children sitting in similar curved window grills, with their legs hanging through the grid, swinging their feet as they watched the activity on the street.)
One of my favorite pieces was a lantern built around a porcelain Chinese garden stool (called a drum). I liked it because it was such a distinctive cultural crossover between China and Turkey. There were also 16th century Turkish blue and white porcelains, and a 13th-14th century tulip tile from Iznik (at the bottom of the image gallery).
There were several wood and copper doors from 13th-15th century mosques and minbars, and fittings from ablution fountains. There were 13th century stone reliefs, as well as sarcophagi in carved wood and stone. I took photos of several of the carvings as reference material for future hat designs.
A bronze dragon doorknob (shown in the gallery below, amid the carved doors) was made from a combination of dragons and lions that was a common theme in Anatolian Artukid art. The combination was thought to have protective significance and symbolized the sun and moon. The motif is frequently found on Artukid coins.
The vey last photo in the image gallery shows a round object with a lid – a device called a Qibla-numa, used for determining the distance and direction to Mecca.
The image gallery below is scrollable and includes the rest of my photos from this museum. If you need additional detail about these pieces, ask me to check my background notes…