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SHOPPING

Travelers are usually surprised and delighted by the range and quality of things to buy in Turkey. Sure there are plenty of  chintzy souvenirs, but most of what you buy here won't end up in the cupboard within a week of returning. Goodies here are increasingly being exported to designer boutiques round the world. If you are wondering about the meaning behind the ubiquitous blue-glass eyes check out

Note that most shops closed on Sunday except in Prime tourist locations and shopping malls. 

Carpets & Kilims

Turkey is famous for its beautiful carpets and kilims ( flat - weave rugs). Most carpet shops have a range of pieces made by a variety of techniques. Besides the traditional pile carpets, they usually offer double sided flat-woven mats such as kilims. Most are beautiful traditional designs and techniques, but many are patchwork or other contemporary designs.

 

As well as Turkish carpets, most carpet shops sell pieces from other countries, in particular from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the ex-soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. If it matters that your carpets is actually from Turkey, bear in mind that you Iran favours the single knot and Turkey the double knot. Turkish carpets also tend to have a higher pile, more dramatic designs and more varied colours then their Iranian cousins.

The carpet market is lucrative Ender hard-sell antics of some dealers have tended to bring the trade into disrepute, putting off some potential purchasers. To ensure you get a good buy, spend time visiting shops and comparing prices and quality. It is also worth taking a look in the shops at home before you leave so that you will know what's available and for what prices at home. When deciding whether to buy a particular carpet it might help to follow some of the guidelines listed here:

  • A good-quality, long-lasting carpet or kilim should be 100% wool (yüz de yüz yün). Is the wool fine and shiny, with signs all of the natural oil? Recycled or cheap wool feels scratchy and has no sheen, and the cheapest carpets may be made from mercerised cotton or 'flosh'. Another way to identify the material is to turn the carpet over and look for the fine, frizzy fibres common to wool. But bear in mind that just being made of wool doesn't guarantee a kilim or carpet's quality. If the dyes and design are ugly, even a 200% woollen piece can be a bad buy.

  • Check the closeness of the weave by turning the carpet or kilim  over and inspecting the back. In general, the tighter the weave and a smaller the knots, the higher the quality and durability of  the piece.

  •  Beware the  salesman who asserts  that all his range are colored with natural  dyes. chemical dyes have been the main methods of coloring in the country for the last 50 years. there is nothing wrong with chemical dyes,  but natural dyes and colors tend to be preferred and therefore fetch higher prices. Spread the nap with your fingers and look at the bottom of the pile.  Both natural and chemical dyes fade ( despise what the salesman might tell you). if you see the colors our lights are lighter on the surface then deep in the pile,  it is often an indication that the surface has faded in the sun, but not necessarily that it is an antique.

  •  Unless you know something about antique carpets and kilims, which are always more expensive,  it is probably best to stick with new productions. New carpets can be made to look old, and damaged or  worn carpets can be rewoven ( good work, but expensive), patched or even painted.There is nothing wrong with a dealer offering you a patched or repainted carpet provided they point out these defects and price the piece accordingly .

Ceramics

After carpets and kilims, Turkey's beautiful Ceramics have to be the most successful souvenir industry. Many of the tiles you see in shops have been painted using a silk screen printing method and this is why they are cheap. One step up are the ubiquitous Hand-painted bowls,  plates and other pieces; these are made by rubbing a patterned carbon paper on the raw ceramic, tracing the black outline, and filling in the holes with color.The most expensive pieces are hand-painted by master craftspeople, without the use of patterns.

Note that many ceramics have been covered in lead-based glaze so it is probably safest to use them as ornaments.

Copper

Gleaming copper vessels will greet you in every  souvenir shop. Some are old, most are handsome and some are still eminently useful. New copper-ware tends to be off lighter gauge, but will still have been made by hand.

Copper vessels should not be used for cooking or eating unless they have been tinned inside:  it is washed with molten tin that covers the toxic copper. If you intend to use a copper vessel, make sure the interior layer of tin is intact or negotiate to have it kalaylı (tinned). Be sure to ask about the price of the tinning  in advance as teneke (tin ) is expensive

Inlaid Wood

You will find cigarettes boxes, chess and tavla ( backgammon)  boards and all sorts of items inlaid with different colored woods, silver or mother-of-pearl on sale all over Turkey. Make sure what you are buying actually is inlay -  these days, alarmingly accurate imitations exist. also, check whether the ‘silver’ is not actually aluminium or pewter.

Jewellery

Turkey is a wonderful place to buy jewelry, whether new or old. Jewelers Row in any market is a dazzling strip of glittering shop windows filled with gold for brides-to-be. Serious gold buyers should check the daily price for unworked gold of so many carat in the daily papers. Watch carefully as the Jeweler weighs the piece in question, and then calculate what part of the price is for gold and what part for labour.

silver is another matter. you can certainly find sterling silver jewelry ( look for the hallmark)  but beware nickel silver and pewter like imitations. Silver, too, he's sold by weight as well as  labour.

Leather

On any given Kurban Bayramı (Festival of the sacrifice),  more than 2,5 million sheep get the axe in Turkey. Add to that the normal  day-to-day needs of a cuisine based on mutton and lamb, and you have a huge amount of raw material to be made into leather;  hence the country’s thriving leather industry.

 Jackets are one of the most popular purchases. To be sure of a good buy,  examine the piece thoroughly. Try it on just as carefully and see whether the sleeves are full enough,  the buttonholes are positioned well the collar rubs.

Meerschaum

If you smoke a pipe, you know about meerschaum ( lületaşı). The world's largest and finest beds of this hydrous magnesium silicate, This soft, Whitestone, are farms near the city of is Eskişehir. This porous but  heat resistant material is used most famously to make pipes.Artful carving all of the stone produces pipes portraying anything from turbaned paşas to mythological beasts.