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Urns to yearn for

Deep in the industrial outskirts of Istanbul, Griselda Warr enters an Aladdin’s cave of Anatolian treasures. Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

  • An annexe for the pots in Hakart's astonishing treasure trove – a sort of giant Anatolian clearing house

A warehouse heaves with pottery jars and pitchers of all sizes, with battered cauldrons, wooden cartwheels, marble basins, copper serving dishes stacked to the ceiling. I had no idea such places existed. We are in the nondescript building in Beylikdüzü, beyond Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, where three members of the Doyran family, from Nevşehir in Cappadocia, run their business, Hakart.

In a basement workshop they reproduce examples of classic Turkish house and garden wares, from trays and tea services to spinning wheels and pitchforks, using traditional tools. But climb the stairs and you enter a different world. Cavernous spaces over four floors are filled with a wild assortment of old treasures that the Doyrans continue to find in Anatolia, and in the lands beyond the Black Sea.

Pottery urns, jars and amphorae fill one immense back room. Giant wooden casks are ranged on upper shelves. Part of the fun lies in discovering curiosities in dark corners. Would the keys in fat bunches fit any of the dusty locks piled next to them? An ingenious glove-like wooden implement designed to winnow grain would make a brilliant dance prop. A brass “hand” has holes in its numerous “fingertips”, for pouring the batter for the parchment-thin pastry tel kadayıf. One brass cauldron large enough for a child to bathe in would be impressive enough. But a tumbling stack of 20 or more, with intricately shaped handles, could be a stage set for experimental theatre.

There is something forlorn about shelf upon shelf of covered brass and bronze dishes once used for serving rice and other foods: it seems a shame that so many have been discarded. Here, too, are sini, the flat, round trays that double as impromptu tables. Then there are the legions of jugs – one ornamental pair stands shoulder-height. Five-foot-tall anthropomorphic copper stills for rose oil, sleek and beautifully made, look down their long “noses” upon lesser artefacts on lower shelves.

Yes, I know all this used to be available in Copper Street outside the Grand Bazaar, but those days are gone. And if it were not for the Doyrans, so would this great wealth of the antique, weird and wonderful.

Hakart, Menekşe Cad 3, Bakırcılar ve Pirinççiler Sanayi Sitesi (the Copper- and Brass-makers’ Industrial Park), Beylikdüzü, Istanbul;; +90 212 876 2686. Take the Metrobüs to Güzelyurt. Hakart have a small shop by the Grand Bazaar: Bakırcılar Cad 26, Beyazıt. Prices for ewers: TL75–150. Clay jars: from TL10, for tiny vessels, to TL5,000 for large. Marble basins: TL75–200
Also worth seeing in this truly bleak area is Büyükçekmece Bridge, the only building to bear Sinan’s signature. Beyond lie the vineyards of Thrace and fine Edirne mosques

On the return journey call in at Atatürk’s summerhouse in Florya, an immaculate Thirties time warp on stilts in the Sea of Marmara. A good lunch spot is Beyti, also in Florya (see Restaurants, Cornucopia 50, page 201)

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 50
  • Terrifying Beauty

    Justinian’s soaring edifice inspires the same awe today as it did in visitors a millennium ago who wondered if this were Heaven or Earth. Setting out on a tour of the city’s best-preserved Byzantine churches, Robert Ousterhout still senses an air of the miraculous in Ayasofya

  • Decked in Splendour

    The long-awaited Naval Museum has many wonders to reveal, but nothing to compare with the fabulously ornate imperial barges

  • Bean vivant

    From a trusty staple to the stuff of feasts, beans are at the very heart of Turkish cuisine. How did we ever live without them?

  • Byzantium’s Legacy

    In a vivid, impressionistic portrait of the Byzantine city, Robert Ousterhout uncovers the history of Byzantium in ten objects, explores the soaring edifice of Ayasofya and picks four of the city’s most inspiring smaller churches.

  • From Palace to Bazaar

    Take in the Topkapı, where the sultans held sway in secluded grandeur. Saunter round Sultanahmet and the Hippodrome: make the most of the mosques, monuments and museums. Get the buzz of the bazaar: where to snap up covetable collectables and cheerful bargains

  • Magic Movements

    AyşeDeniz Gökçin’s musical creations combine the rock-star appeal of Franz Liszt and the psychedelic/progressive brilliance of the band Pink Floyd. Tony Barrell found this prodigiously talented young pianist a force to be reckoned with. Photograph by Charles Hopkinson

  • A devilishly fine juicer

    John Carswell solves the mystery of the ‘lemon squeezer’ that wasn’t

  • The Best of a Classy Bunch

    In a decade of monitoring Turkey’s burgeoning wine industry, Kevin Gould has never been more impressed. He and the Cornucopia tasting team enthusiastically sampled this year’s top bottles and nominated their favourites

  • Horn of Plenty

    It is a joy to explore. New universities, a new museum, and a growing band of new aficionados who have invested modest means in old houses, have created a wonderful sense of optimism. But the ancient waterfront is in the eye of the storm, with many quarters due to be bulldozed and the threat of a hideous new marina. Enjoy it while you can

  • The Mirrored Pavilion

    Hidden away in one of Istanbul’s least prepossessing neighbourhoods is a walled garden surrounding a dream of a kiosk – a favourite of many sultans.

  • Full Steam Ahead

    Give yourself over to the grit and bustle of Eminönü’s waterside markets, then ascend to Sinan’s sublime hilltop mosques – the awesome Süleymaniye and the haunting Şehzade. In their shadow is the exuberantly tiles Rüstem Pasha Mosque. Cornucopia devotes 24 pages to this vibrant area, with features on Eminönü and the Suleymaniye district with photographs by Jürgen Frank, and a guide to the mosques beautifully depicted by Fritz von der Schulenburg

  • Stony Heart of Empire

    Within the deepest reaches of the palace lies the very seat of the sultans’ power

  • Everything the heart desires

    The Grand Bazaar: From Iznik to Armani, objets d’art to handloomed carpets: the choice is yours

  • A City of Secret Gardens

    When David Wheeler set out to satisfy his craving to explore Turkish gardens, he was guided by a diverse cast of committed Istanbul citizens. What he discovered were myriad horticultural havens, from Byzantine market gardens to Ottoman cemeteries – many of them under imminent threat.
    SPECIAL OFFER: order five beautiful garden-themed issues, including this one, for only £80. List price £122

  • Austerity and awe

    In his 40-year career, Sinan (1489–1588) transformed the Istanbul skyline. Here we explore three of the chief imperial architect’s masterpieces from the golden age of Süleyman the Magnificent. Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

Good places to stay
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Issue 50, Autumn 2013 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Sultan’s City
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