A pre-planned visit with friends to Istanbul’s Sali Pazar or Tuesday Market on the Asian side of the city ensured that I headed out in a torrential morning downpour to wade through puddles and sift through piles of textiles in one of Istanbul’s largest biweekly markets. Although named the Tuesday Market, the market is now held twice a week on both Tuesday and Friday. The market has relocated from a massive parking lot in Kadikoy to another open space in the neighbourhood of Hasan Pasa. As we jumped in a taxi does seem slightly strange to announce our destination as the Tuesday Market even though it is Friday.
Shopping for home goods, ‘seconds’ in clothing lines, produce, cheese, nuts, spices, fabrics and all manner of oddities; the market is both a visual delight and an audio assault as vendors shout prices and encouragement to the shoppers to take a look at their wares. Today the overriding challenge was to avoid being drenched by unpredictable deluges as the tarps covering the goods were filling with pools of rainwater which would dump without warning on whoever happened to be close to the edge of the overhead tarp.
The market is a great place to visit with a camera. Even if one only strolls through the produce the colours, textures and smells and the diffused light because of the overhead tarps makes for no end of opportunity to get great images. Today we warmed up along the way with a small cup of tea – some caffeine, sugar and we were good for some more stalls.
My shopping ‘finds’ today included an Ottoman textile, a traditional pestemal. Pestemals are towels although these old pieces generally do not have a looped pile that we associate with the word towel. Often these decorative towels were a part of a woman’s hamam accessories taken to the Turkish Bath with other women as a way of show casing their own needlework or their ability to buy fine court workshops pestemals. The one I purchased is a hand loomed cotton with a silver thread embroidery. The textile has a centre seam where two narrow widths of fabric have been joined together. The embroidery is done with a metal wrapped thread. After the design is embroidered the metal thread is pounded flat. With time and age the silver oxidizes and the design becomes a dark silver-pewter colour on the light coloured textile. This particular textile has tiny glass bead that adorn the delicate hand worked fringe at either end of the towel.
I also bought a number of old hand blocked Turkish cotton scarves with oya around the edges. Oya is a decorative edging that is either worked as a needle weaving or a crochet technique. Still in rural Turkey women wear scarves decorated with this edging – in many cases it is hand worked although scarves with machine made edging are also in use. As with carpet and textile motifs oya patterns are regional allowing the scarves to be designated to varying locations.
I Iove the fact that the textiles I purchased today represent two distinct societal entities – the urban with the pestemal and the rural with the head scarves with the oya.
We thawed out with a bowl of chicken soup at a nearby lokanta after a couple of hours in the market. Soggy but never disappointed by a morning (literally soaking in) the delights of Istanbul markets.