A Little Boutique Store for Hand Crafted Anatolian Art: Ark of Crafts in Şişhane, Istanbul

Jen Welter-Çaylı
26 June, 2014

Istanbul is kind of place where one could spend their time constantly exploring, and still never see it all. The Ottoman history is so vast that there is seemingly endless information to be absorbed about the culture, music, food and art, it can be boggling. Recently I was introduced to a wonderful addition to the Galata neighborhood, a small art boutique called Ark of Crafts. Located in the sophisticated and chic, newly refurbished Adahan Hotel, Ark of Crafts is a great fit.  | Ark of Crafts Website

Just head 2 blocks from the tunel and make your way to the Cachi Lokanta which truy deserves a mention of its own. This is one of the most beautiful spaces. Upon entering you will feel as though you have stepped into a New England beach house. The restaurant is airy and flooded with sunlight, it’s very organic with long wooden tables and fresh flowers everywhere. There is a nearly 360 degree terrace with stunning views of Galata Tower, the many famous mosques of Eminonu and the Bosphorus. You can take in all these stunning views while seagulls soar and call all around you. The balcony is also loaded with flower boxes, fresh herbs and strawberry plants, as well as young olive and fruit trees. It’s a very peaceful space.

 

Tucked into the front area of Cachi is the Ark of Crafts boutique. While the space itself is not huge, the diversity of both traditional and modern Anatolian crafts is impressive. I won’t pretend to be an expert on Anatolian handcrafts, these traditions have been developed over centuries and have been influenced by the many civilizations which have passed through Anatolia. Luckily I didn’t need to be. Nina, the English speaking co-owner was more than happy to take the time to answer my myriad questions. She shared with me a great deal of information about the various mediums, their histories and the modern interpretations of the artisans. She patiently explained to me methods of production and pointed out which region each artisan resides. Nina didn’t make me feel rushed in the least in fact she offered a cup of tea while I browsed as is the social custom with Turkish hospitality.

The collections themselves would be too numerous to list, everything from the copper work of artist Selcuk Derinoz to the gorgeous silver kazaziye jewelry native to the city of Trabzon done by artist Funda Yapicioglu. There was such a variety of items from horn combs to block printed textiles, ceramic bowls and even these beautiful little charm necklaces where the artist painstakingly painted a lentil with a fox hair.

Ark of Crafts also now has a second location in Nuruosmaniye. However even if you can’t make it to Istanbul or you want a better idea of the collection there is a wonderful website to browse and they ship globally! So feel free to peruse this charming collection and support the local artisan community here in Turkey. But, when you do arrive in Istanbul, be sure to include Ark of Crafts on your list of places to visit. It is well worth a few hours of your holiday time and you are sure to come home with a gorgeous Anatolian piece to remind you of your stay.

 

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Jen Welter-Çaylı

An American expat who has been living in Istanbul for the last 4 years. Interested in travel, exploring other cultures and eating great food along the way.

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