Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Istanbul's Book Bazaar

"Printing machines came to Istanbul in 1729, reducing the number of handwritten books. The Sultan prohibited the printing of religious books, in order to preserve the art of calligraphy. But calligraphic art still diminished, sharply decreasing the number of hand-illustrated, handwritten books. Today books come to the market from the estates of deceased people, as they have for centuries. Fascinating auctions are held regularly. Anyone may attend and all the bookstall owners have schedules of the auctions. In the past, book sellers had guilds. Shopping was done according to religious rules; shops opened and closed with prayers. The book dealers' guild started with Abdullah Yetimi. Guild members were privileged to participate in an annual parade at the palace, where second-hand books were displayed for the Sultan."

By Jerri Clark Kirby (scroll down to the third article.)

The Old Book Bazaar is best seen in this photo.

This quote comes into focus as one reads the last page of My Name is Red. I really had to look this up to find out more about the decline of calligraphy after the 16th and 17th centuries. The prohibition on printing religious books is also something I had heard about recently.


Blogger bill said...


There are some glancing scenes at Sahaflar Çarsisi in Pamuk's memoir of Istanbul (I wrote a little about it at my place...)

Lovely blog; I visit regularly.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I visited your blog and especially enjoyed your 'West by East' post.


9:40 PM  

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