What I bought in Istanbul

Well, it wasn't a costume. Not an Oriental one, anyway. But it wasn't for lack of opportunity, certainly. The Tarazade Dance Festival had the requisite local vendors - 5 or 6, I think - who set up shop outside of the workshop location. It was fun to see what the Turkish dancers are wearing. It looks like long layers of beads are coming back into style. There were a lot of print skirts and accents mixed with the beads and sequins - sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't. Bella was not there, but the other vendors seemed like they had very high-quality goods.

Two members of our group were in the market for costumes, so they visited a costumer's shop a few days ago, after the festival. We had heard that the costumers did not necessarily bring their best costumes to the festival. We had also heard that bargaining would be more effective at the shop. And it must have been - Karen got a beautiful red costume and Melanie a gold costume and a purple one.

Our intrepid troupe artistic director, Margaret Slocombe, seized the opportunity to negotiate the creation of a custom folkloric costume for us (Origins Folkloric Dance Company). We have a lovely coat/harem pant/silk top combo being crafted for us as I write, which should serve us well for Persian, Armenian, and Turkish Ottoman-era style dance. It was fun putting it together - we were sent into the depths of the Grand Bazaar to find the fabric merchant with whom the costumer worked. It was like dying and going to costumer heaven. The fabrics were incredible - gorgeous colors and sequins and embroidery and trims. I almost wished I could sew so I could take advantage of all this beautiful material.

So what did I end up with?

- Silk robe, bath sheets, keci (hammam mitts) and hammam soap (sort of like Ivory)
- Wonderful hand-woven bathrobe and bath sheets - made in weavers' homes on ancient looms in the old style - for my husband's birthday. These came from a special shop about which I will write more later.
- Music!! A musician came to Sema Yildiz's class one day with a ginourmous bag of CDs, from which I fed heavily. Glad I did too, because I did not see these CDs in a music shop I subsequently visited.
- Organic rosewater
- Apple tea, jasmine tea, Turkish coffee, and a pot to cook the latter in
- Some gifts for people that I won't elaborate on in case they are reading this blog. :-)
- Lots of blue glass charms against the evil eye

I tried to restrain myself and buy things I could really only get over there. Overall, prices weren't so bad. I had heard that Turkey wasn't cheap, but prices weren't exorbitant. Factoid: the unit of currency is the Turkish lira (TL, called "tay-lay"). One TL is roughly equivalent to $0.55 USD.