We’ve been looking forward to doing this post for some time for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because of the visual effect – I’m a sucker for mixed, vivid colours. The second is because all these mixed, vivid colours spill from our friend’s shop in Kapalı Çarşısı (known as the Grand Bazaar or Covered Bazaar) in Istanbul.
People who know Fethiye well will remember Necmi as the owner of the silver shop, opposite Deep Blue Bar in Paspatur. A couple of years back, he decided Istanbul was the city for him, and he and his family packed up and left for a new future in this most beautiful of cities.
He now owns a business in one of the most famous, historic shopping centres in the world, selling one of Turkey’s most famous souvenirs; hand-painted ceramics from Turkey’s ceramic capital, Kütahya. All are inspired by the historic ceramics produced in Iznik and Kütahya from the 14th Century onwards. They were highly prized by the Ottoman sultans.
Whenever we go to Istanbul now, woe betide if we don’t squash in a little visit to catch up with Necmi. Of course, trying to hunt him down in the maze of streets that make up the Grand Bazaar is a challenge itself and, when we went to see him in October, we gave up and phoned him. ‘Stay where you are. I’m coming to get you,’ was the reply. Easy when you know how; he was at our side within seconds.
When we lived in England, we had a few of these hand-painted plates and bowls that we’d brought back as souvenirs of our holidays in Turkey. Now we live here, we have yet to purchase any. But we do intend to change that. My favourites are the blue-coloured plates and vases in the photo above.
Of course these days, you can buy these famous Turkish souvenirs in all manner of shapes and sizes and Necmi’s business, Istanbul Ceramic, sells hand-painted ceramics to suit all budgets. Anything from fridge magnets starting at 1 TL (less than 40 pence) right up to beautiful, intricately painted floor vases coming in at an eye-watering 7,000 TL (around £2,600 at today’s rate). Of course, if you were to purchase one of those, we’re sure you’d get the fridge magnet thrown in for free!
- Istanbul Seramik is on Çadırcılar Caddesi, Lütfullah Sokak (near the Lütfullah Gate) in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
- If you’re not in Turkey but would like to purchase ceramics, you can view the Istanbul Ceramic website
- And if you know Necmi from Fethiye and happen to be in Istanbul any time, he’d love you to drop in to say hello and drink a çay or three. You can give his shop a call on +90 212 518 64 07