Visit Our Etsy Shop

Streets lined in…

Well, in this case, not gold…but something we like just as much: hand-embroidered silk. Abit the treasure hunter was taking a shortcut home two nights ago from his Sirkeci workplace to our Kadirga home. So many streets are currently under renovation in Sultanahmet, worn old cobbles being replaced with newly hewn granite ones, that we’ve come to expect dodging piles of discarded material.

But generally those discards do not include hand-stitched images of peacocks. Abit’s eagle eye spotted a hint of bright color as he stepped over a lump of white cotton, tossed up against steps to the door of an auto supply shop. Unafraid to get his hands dirty in pursuit of potential cast-offs of value, he turned the lump over to discover a garden of flowers, butterflies and birds on a field of blue silk. Large enough to cover a double bed, the embroidery is backed in white cotton, though the maker never added batting or bound the edges to finish the bedcover.

Did it fall from someone’s overfilled arms as they moved from one home to another? Unlikely since there are few residences along that lane, just car part shops being gentrified into hotels. The piece seems used, for the cloth has very slight spotting along one edge, and the silk on the face has faded considerably (for the better) from the brighter blue of the other side. It’s otherwise clean, though in need of a good ironing. Would someone intentionally dump a work that would have taken the very skilled embroiderer weeks to create?

I’d love to know the story behind this piece, with its design and patterns that seem more Chinese than Turkish to me. But any trader of the thousands in Istanbul who now deal in Chinese goods, passing them off as Turkish (neglecting to utter the words “in inspiration” when showing them to potential customers) would not have been so loose with their merchandise. We’ll never know what happened, but it does reinforce our belief that there is treasure to be found along an Istanbul street.


What cast-off treasures have materialized in your life lately?


3 comments to Streets lined in…

  • Came across the thumbnail of a detail of this lovely piece on FB. At first glance I thought the photo was of a flower found among debris on a work site, or a rough street. Following the link I came to this blog post. I love this line: “Unafraid to get his hands dirty in pursuit of potential cast-offs of value, he turned the lump over to discover a garden of flowers, butterflies and birds”, without the intro about the embroidered fabric I would still have expected more critters to appear, busy ants, a black beetle, perhaps some doodle bugs. Even “on a field of blue” would have kept me in the fairytale spell. So in the end “silk” was the final giveaway that reality had set in. Lovely piece, lovely story and how wonderful to have such a mindful man with the eye of the artist on your side!

    • Thanks Judith – he is indeed wonderful to keep up with! I love your mention of “doodle bugs” – not quite the same meaning, but Abit, always a doodler, has started creating intensely detailed mandalas this winter. Past life as a ceramicist or calligrapher perhaps? His artist’s eye is for the big picture as well, imagining the details for the future he’s aiming to build. You should see what he’s working on at the moment – but inshallah, everyone will, when the time is right!

  • Gorgeous piece, Catherine! It looks Miao to me.

    Glad the Blogger nightmare is over and that you are on to this site!


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>