Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan just around the corner of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
As most of our readers will no doubt already know, there’s an impressive Central Asian diaspora in Turkey — “diaspora” here being perhaps a relative, Soviet-era term, as both before and prior to communism there was and has been a much more fluid Turkic geographical continuity. Istanbul has been a loci of this diaspora, as Annasoltan has reported vis-à-vis the Turkmen, so I wasn’t surprised to discover that there’s a Central Asian textiles dealer just outside the Kapalıçarşı.
Ahmet Ağlamiş is an Uzbek originally from Asgabat who emigrated to Istanbul shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. I learned about him from Time Out‘s guidebook, but they’ve got the address wrong, listing him as 27 Çadırcılar Caddesi when in fact he’s in 33, crammed into a little nook just to the right of the entrance to the sokak. He sells mostly Uzbek and some Turkmen goods, particularly robes, carpets, scarves and the occasional cloth saddle, all of which is handmade in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, and which he says varies in age from last year to over a century (I purchased a tiny Turkmen rug from him that he claimed was “at least” 100 years old, “probably” 120, for a mere 35 liras/15 euros). Ahmet’s quite a character, very playful and gentle. He hangs out at a Turkish tea dealer’s joint beside his store. An Afghanistani Turkmen fellow stopped by to have drinks with us, evidencing to me that he maintains a healthy social circle of native Turks and Central Asian emigrés.
So, if you’re looking for a nice conversation and some decent Turkmen and Uzbek textiles at very reasonable prices, but can’t get to Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan, I suggest you stop by Ahmet. ;-)