Mattresses, Brooms, and Art in Bulk, Tahtakale, Istanbul: Street Commerce Direct and Unadorned

Mattresses for sale, Tahtakale, Eminönü, Istanbul, 2012. (Fuji X100). Click to enlarge.

Mattresses for sale, Tahtakale quarter, Eminönü, Istanbul, 2012. (Fuji X100). Click to enlarge.

Exit Istanbul’s famed Egyptian Spice Market in the direction of the mosque of Rüstem Paşa and the neighborhood of Tahtakale and one passes through a narrow street filled with slow moving crowds of tourists and local shoppers from throughout the city.  The first few hundred meters of the street is lined with scores of shops selling fresh ground coffee, nuts and dried fruit, followed by stalls and workshops stocked with traditional wooden and metal kitchenware and folding tables, baskets, and other accoutrements de rigueur for street vendors.  Continue further in the direction of Unkapani and the crowds thin out and the goods in the shops and stalls become more prosaic and spartan, necessities geared to the mundane needs of low income shoppers from the immediate surroundings.  Artifice is absent, goods are displayed matter-of-factly — neither display windows nor vicarious seduction, no hawkers, just commerce at its most direct and unadorned.

Left: The wares of a broom seller with matching façade. Right: Affordable art.  Tahtakale, Eminönü, Istanbul, 2012. (Fuji X100). Click to enlarge.

Left: The wares of a broom seller with façade painted to match. Right: Affordable art. Tahtakale, Eminönü, Istanbul, 2012. (Fuji X100). Click to enlarge.

 

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