The Carpet Museum, Istanbul, Turkey


We photographed the beautiful carpets in the Istanbul Carpet Museum

Our intention on this trek was to photograph the stunning display of tulips in Gulhane Park, but unfortunately it was hosing down with rain, so we decided to head inside to the newly opened Carpet Museum instead. Despite one Tripadvisor reviewer finding this museum boring, we found it fascinating.

This 14-15th century carpet is from Eastern Anatolia, from the Ulu Mosque

This is one of the richest carpet collections in the world. It includes many carpets that were donated to mosques and mescids (prayer rooms). According to Islamic tradition, the donors were assured a privileged place in the afterlife, especially if their carpet was renowned for its aesthetic and artistic qualities.

This 14th century carpet is also from Eastern Anatolia, from the Ulu Mosque

One excellent addition to the museum is the description and meanings of the various symbols found woven into the carpets. Once we saw this, we shot off in all directions to see if we could identify the symbols on the carpets themselves.

Here is a sample of some of those symbols
(Click on the image to see a larger size) 

See if you can identify any of them on the images displayed here. Then you will know the purpose of the original weaver in making this work of art. (You might need a magnifying glass to read my sample!)

Design from a 15th century carpet from Central Anatolia, from the Teberrukat Warehouse

Design from a 14th-15th century carpet from Eastern Anatolia,  Ulu Mosque

Design from a 16th century carpet from Uşak, Ulu Mosque

Design from a 16th century carpet from Western Anatolia, Ulu Mosque

The museum door is to the left of the main entrance to Topkapi Palace, and is located in the İmaret (Soup Kitchen), added to Ayasofya in 1742-43 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I. There are three separate rooms housing the collection, and the final one is the old bakery (fodlahane) for making bread to give to the poor. 

...and the old ovens have been preserved in the third exhibition room

by Elizabeth Coughlan


The Charcoal Burners of Thrace, Turkey

A Charcoal Burner tending the smoking mound

We spotted the smoke rising from the forest, and knew we were near our goal. We were in Eastern Thrace, on the ridge between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea; an hour and a half's drive from Istanbul to the area around Çatalca, where charcoal is still made from wood in the traditional manner.

Charcoal has been made in this area since Ottoman times, and the manner of burning has been handed down from father to son through the ages. The traditional way of producing charcoal is very labour intensive. It could also be considered unhealthy, because of the clouds of smoke billowing over the workers. But, we were assured, the charcoal burners of Thrace lead long and healthy lives.

First, a circular area needs to be cleared in the forest... 

...and the wood cut to precise lengths...

...before being stacked around the edges of the clearing.

The wood is then carefully arranged, beginning with the thinnest sticks...

...and then larger logs are added, while being careful to maintain the shape.

Once the mound of logs is complete, it is covered in hay and soil..

...and set alight from the centre by dropping in burning charcoal. 
It is then left to burn for a whole week before it is ready.

The burning mound is carefully monitored by the workers both day and night

They live in nearby huts until the burning is complete

Some huts appear to have been there a long time!

The finished charcoal is stacked, ready to be packed for sale.

It takes seven tons of wood to produce about one ton of charcoal. There is a ready market for it in Istanbul, as charcoal is used widely in Turkish restaurants, and in many homes, for grilling meat, fish and vegetables. 

This was such an interesting day, and a most enjoyable one. I love learning about Istanbul and its history.

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Beykoz glass Factory, Istanbul

Glass bead making in Cam Ocağı Vakfı (Glass Factory Foundation)

There is always something interesting to photograph in Istanbul. This week, our photography club visited the Bekoz Glass Furnace. This is an international glass center in the Black Sea Region, to the north of Istanbul on the Asian side. Originally formed as a studio for local artists, the Beykoz Glass Furnace has become an international learning center, and a meeting place for glass artists from all over the world. Here, students can learn various glass techniques in the many workshops. while visitors can watch glass production, and shop for hand-made pieces.

There was a fascinating display of glass art for us to photograph...

...with beautiful patterns

...and delicately made pieces

We saw the tools of the glass maker...

...and watched as glass was shaped

...and blown

We also looked into the workrooms where students practice making glass beads...

...like these beads

I found some of the finished textures quite beautiful...

...as well as some of the finished articles

This was a very successful expedition, and I am looking forward to next week's visit to the charcoal makers of Istanbul. We are so lucky to be living in this fascinating city!


A Beautiful Italian Wedding

Clare and Reg, the happy couple.

Together with their beautiful bridesmaids, Carlotta and Jessica

Best Man, Bridesmaids and Page Boy

After a 24 hour turn around, in between arriving from Australia and flying to Italy, I was delighted to attend the wedding celebrations of our daughter, Clare. Festivities kicked off with a dinner for guests on the Friday evening, followed by the wedding on the Saturday.

All the guests were invited to dine at a nearby restaurant on the Friday night.

We were thrilled to see Bettina, a friend of Clare's from the time they were 15 years old, living in Spain.

The nuptials were to take place at the Laguna Blu Restaurant, on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Reno, Leggiuno. To give the restaurant time to recover from their lunch time clientele, all the wedding guests packed into two ferry boats and crossed the lake to Isola Pescatore, the Fisherman's Island in the lake. There we commandeered a restaurant, and enjoyed a drink or two as we chatted, and caught up with news of friends and family.

The wedding party sailed off to Isola Pescatore.

Reg's Dad, and Cathy, flew in all the way from Australia...

...as did his sister, Lee-Anne; while his brother, Steven, flew in from the States.

On Isola di Pescatore, we caught up with friends and family

Once back at the restaurant, the ceremony began, with Giuliano as the official celebrant.

Coughlan Girls

The Lads

Important People! Bernard, Margy, David and me.

As we sat down to eat, Jessica played the flute for us.

The meal was perfect, as dish after dish was brought to the table. We love Laguna Blu, everything about it is wonderful, the food, the service, the decorations! No wonder it is usually fully booked!

First dance!!!

Karaoke was really popular. That's Reg's Dad in the middle!

Even Hugo, Jessica and Emma, were brave enough to join in!

All too soon came the cutting of the cake... 

...and the end of a perfect wedding, as the happy couple serenaded the guests!

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I couldn't resist this one!