Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Grand Bazaar

A last stop before lunch, we made it to the Grand Bazaar, not a quaint open-air market, but really one of the oldest “malls”—a hatchwork of covered streets, with shops crammed together and the art of selling refined to high quality.

All sorts of things can be found here—jewels, gold, silver; tea sets, ceramics, lamps; leather, rugs, shawls; and souvenirs galore.

A new mascot image?

What I found much appealing were pages of old books, individual pages, worked with gold leaf and hand-illustrated, crumbling edges, fire touched, antique or well-dissimulated. I looked through a stack that dealt with religious themes, such as a mounted, veiled Prophet, Jonah with the fish, learned sages with emblems of the zodiac, and so on. These caught my eye now because I’m reading Orhan Pamuk’s novel, My Name is Red, which treats a murder among 16th C. miniaturist painters in Istanbul. I’d planned to finish the novel while in Istanbul, but alas, our schedule won’t permit. And at the un-bargained starting price of 180 TL per page, well, I didn’t buy.

I bought a few (cheaper) souvenirs, and wandered in the dense crowds, watching the dance of commerce, and the waiters running trays of covered tea, sugar chunks atop, to the ever-alert merchants.

Later, bob

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