Doreen Mirvish Bahiri - at the Kapali Carsi market, Istanbul in her grandmother’s cloak.
In 1965, my sister, Miriam, and I started our gallery, DERVISH, in the Old City in Safed. Our family name was Mirvish and we were always called the Whirling Dervishes since we both loved traveling to faraway and exotic places. We specialized in crafts, in ethnic jewelry and textiles, and nothing would get us as high as suddenly finding some rare and exotic treasure. The great bazaars of the world were in Istanbul, Fez, Marakech and Cairo, and nothing could beat the African markets in Mali, Ghana and the Ivory Coast for color, variety and sheer size.
Last summer I decided that we needed some exotic Afghani and Turkoman jewelry, embroideries and weavings. Since Istanbul is so close I hopped on a plane, stayed in a wonderful guesthouse with fabulous views of the Santa Sophia and the Blue Mosque and the Sea of Marmara, teeming with an endless array of ships, liners, yachts and fishing boats. I immediately made my way to the Kapali Carsi (the covered market) which has thousands of shops and courtyards with carpets hanging from the balconies.
I made a beeline for the shop owned by my Afghani friends, who, over the years have told me of their adventures while escaping over the mountains from Afghanistan to Turkey. I became interested in some exotically colored Uzbeki jackets with 'ikat' weaving, a very complicated weaving technique, when suddenly Mohit, my friend, pulled out a large white cloak with silver embroidery. I felt faint and nearly collapsed. "Bring me a chair," I blurted out.
It was my grandmother’s cloak. How on earth did it land up in the bazaar in Istanbul?
When I had recovered somewhat, I remembered that my mother used to tell me that my
great- uncle Morris had travelled to Egypt, probably before the First World War, going from Cape Town to Cairo. He had returned with this very luxurious present for my grandmother. It had the Sultan’s signature embroidered on it, and, therefore, must have been from Ottoman times. As children Miriam and I used to dress up in the cloak and also have fun with the gorgeous ostrich feather fans which were remnants of more precious and fanciful days. Somehow we brought the cloak to Israel and put it in our gallery, not seriously thinking of selling it. However, one day we did sell it to a dealer. He sold it to another dealer in Jerusalem and our Turkish friend came to Israel and, seeing the Ottoman Sultan’s signature, decided it was a good addition to his shop. And of all the millions of things in the bazaar, this was what was pulled out in front of my eyes .... My great sadness was not being able to share this story with my sister who passed away a few years ago. She was the great storyteller and would have loved the serendipity of it all.
Post a Comment
- life's journey – exploring relationships, resolving conflicts. a review
- schneider children's medical center not just any hospital
- children without shadows
- stop driving before it is too late
- encountering israel
- the strawberry woman
- for the love of god and virgins - a review
- fighting cancer with hyperthermia
- ex-volunteers-kibbutz movement wants to hear from you
- watt lights my light