Wednesday, March 21, 2007

İstanbul to host international conference on oriental carpets

İstanbul to host international conference on oriental carpets
İstanbul will host the International Conference on Oriental Carpets (ICOC) April 19-22, with the Swissôtel serving as conference headquarters.

Under the supervision of Mehmet Çetinkaya, chair of the local organizing committee, preparations have long been under way for this important cultural event. The conference will have academic sessions, including presentations on Turkish, Egyptian, Persian, Indian and Caucasian carpets. In addition, there will be programs on historical and archeological aspects of carpets, as well as design, costumes and scientific analysis. The presenters will be from 22 different countries and talks will be given in English, Turkish or German with simultaneous translation offered.

Special exhibitions are being prepared for display in historic locations throughout the city, extending from Sultanahmet to Büyükdere. These exhibitions are scheduled to coincide with the conference, with private opening receptions for attendees.

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art (TIEM) will host two of the exhibitions. Situated across from the remains of the Hippodrome in Sultanahmet, the museum is housed in the 16th century İbrahim Paşa Palace, once the home to the grand vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent. This is a chance to view a collection of extremely rare carpets, many of which have never been exhibited to the public before. TIEM will also host a show of 99 rare ikat coats from the private collection of Mehmet Çetinkaya. The majority of coats are from the 19th century, with some pieces dating from the 18th century.

In the Has Ahırlar of Topkapı Palace there will be an exhibition of 92 textiles from the palace collection. This particular show has been funded by the Koç Foundation and includes silk prayer textiles from Chios Island, Turkish prayer rugs, and Ottoman panels. After the ICOC conference, this collection will remain open for the general public. Çetinkaya personally selected each piece for the display and said, "I found lost treasures in the Topkapı collection."

The Vakıflar Carpet Museum in Sultanahmet is undergoing major renovations that are scheduled for completion in time for the conference. Currently housed in the sultan's loge of the Blue Mosque, the collection of carpets will be moved to a new home near the Aya Sofya Museum, in the Caferağa Medressesi. This building, designed by master architect Sinan, with its domes and high ceilings, makes it a perfect location for exhibitions. The exterior of the building is currently being restored, but inside will be state-of-the-art display areas for the new carpet museum.

Also in Sultanahmet the Darphane will hold a special exhibition of the private collection of the late Josephine Powell. Only about half of the items that will be on display have been exhibited before. The show will include rare kilims, camel bags, grain sacks and black nomadic tents. Powell's photographs, documenting vanishing Anatolian village life will accompany the textile exhibit.

The 15th century Tophane will host a show of items from several private collections of Anatolian textiles. Among the 176 pieces on display will be Anatolian carpets, kilims and cushions, as well as examples of Ottoman embroidery, çatma (patchwork) and suzanis.

The Sadberk Hanım Museum will host an exhibition that includes a rare collection of very fine çatma.

In addition to all of the exhibitions taking place during the ICOC, there will be a dealers fair held at the Swissôtel. Open every day of the conference, Çetinkaya stressed that participation in the dealers fair was very controlled. "These are not just any pieces from any shop. They are the best and highest quality. They had to be just the right pieces to be included," he explained.

For Çetinkaya, one of the biggest challenges he has faced in the preparations for the conference has been trying to coordinate activities at several venues spread out across the city. "In the West it is easier because they already have the infrastructure to have several exhibition spaces in different locations," he said. The organizing committee has been procuring funding, selecting pieces to be shown, overseeing the cleaning and restoration of items, many which have never been cleaned before, as well as overseeing building restoration. But when the conference begins in April their work will not have been in vain as they have the chance to show the world the best of Anatolian textiles and hospitality. Çetinkaya summed it up appropriately, "I am in the process of creating a huge feast."

For more information on ICOC and the upcoming conference visit
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