On my first visit to Bursa, in 1968, I arrived in the evening without a hotel reservation. A kindly shopkeeper helped me with a recommendation.
He didn’t just recommend a good, clean, cheap hotel to me, he left his shop, led me across the city to it, made sure the price was right, and helped me check in. Turkish hospitality!
The shopkeeper was the late Mr Rafet Çelikkol, original owner of Karagöz Antikaci (Karagöz Antiques Shop) in the Eski Aynali Çarsi section of Bursa’s Covered Bazaar. Rafet Bey named his shop after Karagöz (“Black Eye”), the legendary, feisty namesake of the traditional Turkish shadow puppet theater, because he loved the handmade puppets and the amusing plays.
Today, Rafet Bey’s son Mr Sinasi Çelikkol carries on his father’s tradition of helpfulness and fair dealing at Karagöz Antikaci. Like his father, he delights in traveling to the villages to find the best and most authentic Turkish handicrafts and folk-art pieces, and antique household furnishings. He sells at fair prices, just as his father did.
Sinasi (shee-NAH-see) isalso the prime mover in the effort to preserve in Bursa the tradition of the Karagöz shadow puppets. He has a small shadow puppet theater set up in his shop so he can put on impromptu shadow puppet plays for his visitors. He also collects and sells the best-quality shadow puppets made by local artisans.
—by Tom Brosnahan
|Karagöz Shadow Play|