Gem And Craft: Artisans And Their Work

In Pursuit of The Artisans of Grand Bazaar

By Rezan Has Museum

Agop Kuyumcuoglu (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Kuyumcuoğlu was born in Istanbul in 1960. Having begun his career as an apprentice at the age of 15 and specialized in European-style (alafranga) stone setting, Kuyumcuoğlu has been working at his own workshop since 1981. In addition to his mastership as a stone-setter, master Agop designs jewelry as well.

Earrings, 3 Color Tourmalin (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Earrings. 3 color tourmalin, diamond, 24K gold, silver.

Necklace, Rubellite (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Necklace. Rubellite, diamond, ivory, 24K gold, silver.
“There reason I do this here now is this is our home. We cannot move away from home. I go downstairs, see 10-15 friends. They are all in jewelry business, the business of conversation, like I am. What will I do there without anyone? Even if I retire or quit my job, I’d still come back here. This is our sanctuary, our place. The bazaar will always be the Bazaar. With Hagia Sophia on one side and the Grand Bazaar on the other...”
Master Jeweler Agop (Kuyumcuoğlu), 19.06.14

Avedis Kendir (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Kendir was born in Istanbul in 1959. He began jewelry making after primary school, by working at the Grand Bazaar during summer months. At the young age of 10, he had the opportunity to learn his craft from masters such as Matyos Şnokyan and Şob Kanukçuyan. Inspired by Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victorian and Ottoman movements in art in his own designs, Kendir developed a unique synthesis of styles he calls 'Art Avo'.

Brooch with Snake (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Brooch with snake. Ebony, emerald, ruby, tourmalin, diamond, hot enamel.

Detail of the Brooch with Snake-2 (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Arman Suciyan (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Suciyan was born in Istanbul in 1972. During his high school years, he began working part-time at the Hagop Çak workshop at the Grand Bazaar and later continued to work full-time for Misak Toros, a fourth generation member of the Torosyan Family, one of the oldest jewelers of Istanbul. In 1994, he was admitted to the Department of Jewelry Design at Kent Institute of Art and Design in Rochester, England. He received important awards during the time he spent in England. He produced works as a master-designer for renowned brands in England and Italy for many years. Since 2010, Suciyan has been producing and releasing his works under his own brand.

Swan Earcuff (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Swan earcuff. Ruby, brown diamond, black diamond, black rhodium plated silver, white gold.

Green Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Green tourmalin ring. Blue diamond, blue sapphire, zavorit, black rhodium plated silver, white gold

Berç Kazancı (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Kazancı was born in Istanbul in 1939. In 1955, he began his profession as a sadekâr apprentice at his master Niko Kazancıoğlu’s workshop in Zincirli Han. He became certified as a master in 1970. Currently working at the same han as a sadekâr master and specializing in “goosefoot” prong setting. Berç Kazancı’s son who is a master stone setter himself stone-setter lives in the United States.

Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Kazayağı sytle ring. Gold, sapphire, diamond.
“Socialization is a dominant factor. There is no mass manufacturing system here. If you feel down, you can get out and find someone to talk to. People still knock on each other’s doors around here, and say, ‘master, can I borrow your broom for a minute?” or say, “we did this like that, but don’t feel comfortable with it, can you give us your opinion?” You don’t get this opportunity elsewhere because there is no need for it either. There is still solidarity here. That kind of socialization only takes place here. Hygiene may not be too great, but there is sincerity and warmth.”
Master Jeweler Berç (Kazancı), 26.12.13

Note (2017)Rezan Has Museum

"Brooch for the President, extremely urgent please deliver as soon as possible"

Zeki Müren Album Cover (1988)Rezan Has Museum

Berç Melikyan (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Melikyan was born in Istanbul in 1960. He began his profession at 14 as a sadekâr (lapidary) apprentice at Çuhacı Han in the Grand Bazaar. Once his gift for kalem (engraving) was discovered, Melikyan decided to advance his master in this particular branch. Having taught the art of kalemkâr at Mardiros Hallaçyan Usta’s workshop, Melikyan has been working at his own workshop since 1981.

Engraved Locket (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Engraved locket, Pegasus and Woman. Diamond, 8K gold, silver, coral, pearl.

Engraved ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Engraved ring, Birds in a Rosegarden. Ruby, emerald, sapphire, diamond.

Haçik Kelleci (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Kelleci was born in Istanbul in 1964. He began his apprenticeship in 1974 at a stone-setting workshop at the Grand Bazaar. Kelleci moved to Çuhacı Han in 1985 and established his own workshop. Having trained 26 apprentices throughout his career, Haçik Usta has not been taking on new apprentices since the last ten years.

Angel Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Angel ring. 18K gold, diamond.

Earrings (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Earrings. 18K gold, diamond, ruby.

Hagop Erol Bahadıroğlu (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Hagop Erol Bahadıroğlu was born in Istanbul in 1968. In 1980, he began working as an apprentice to Avedis Andonyan and continued train with him until he turned 20. After establishing his own workshop in 1989, he became partners with Aret Çakıcı in 1997. Having trained more than 20 assistants, Hagop Usta currently designs Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Victorian works with Aret Usta.

Dragonfly Brooch (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Dragonfly brooch. Platinum, diamond.

Choker (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Choker. Platinum, diamond.

Hraç Arslanyan (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Arslanyan was born in Istanbul in 1965. He began his career at the age of ten as an apprentice at his uncle and Master Hagop Arslanyan’s workshop in Zincirli Han at the Grand Bazaar. He began practicing his art at the studio he opened in Cağaloğlu in 1986. Arslanyan’s travels across Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France for a year during this period contributed significantly to creating his own style and technique. A master of cameo and bejeweling, Arslanyan is currently training four apprentices in his workshop.

Detail, Phoenix Necklace (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Phoenix necklace. Coral, 18K gold, diamond, enamel.

Kader Yıldız (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Yıldız began working as a jewelry apprentice during his middle school years. Inspired by his trip to Europe in 1991, Yıldız decided to create his own designs, which interpret classic products in a minimalist fashion.

Criss-Cross Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Criss-cross ring. Ebony, 14K gold, diamond, turquoise, coral.

Cobra Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Cobra ring. Ebony, 14K gold, diamond, rhodolite.

Kürşat Bilmiş (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Bilmiş was born in Erzurum in 1977. In 2002, he took over the firm he entered as an apprentice in 1992. Bilmiş has trained four apprentices to date. His workshop is among the few workshops which uses the antique granulation technique.

Wire Necklace (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Wire necklace. 24K gold.

Cuff Bracelet (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Cuff bracelet. 24K gold, silver, diamond.

Manuk Durmazgüler (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Durmazgüler was born in Istanbul in 1982. Having begun his career as an apprentice for Kamer Kıraç at Varakçı Han at the age of 13, Durmazgüler opened his own workshop in 2007 and began selling his designs under the brand Manuk's Workshop. Preferring natural and simple lines in his designs, Durmazgüler has three other artisans that have trained with him at his workshop.

Raw Diamond Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Raw diamond ring. 18K gold, raw diamond.

Sword Necklace (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Sword necklace with snake. Silver, 18K gold and diamond.

Nerses Yağar (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Yağar was born in Kayseri in 1959. In 1974, he began working as a kalemkar apprentice at Çuhacı Han. After working there for a year, Yağar later moved to Zincirli Han. When his master Artar Usta moved to the United States two years later, the workshop was left to Nerses Yağar. Nerses Usta self-trained during this period and completed his own education. Settled at the workshop in Zincirli Han since 2001, Yağar trained two apprentices.

Engraved Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Engraved ring. Sapphire, topaz, silver and diamond.

Detail, Engraved Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Rafi&Levon Şadıyan (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Rafi Şadıyan was born in Istanbul in 1957 and his brother Levon Şadıyan in 1960. The two brothers began working as assistants with their father Jirayr Şadıyan in 1967. Having trained more than three hundred apprentices to date, the Şadıyan brothers continue production at their workshop in Varakçı Han.

Ring with Snake (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Ring with snake. Silver, diamond and ruby.

Golden Brooch (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Brooch. 8x8 cut diamond, 18K gold, ‘setina’ style engraving.

Sevan Bıçakçı (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Bıçakçı was born in Istanbul in 1970. He began apprenticing for Hausep Çatak at the age of 12. A sadekâr (lapidary) master, Bıçakçı has won countless awards for his ring designs, as well as his different product range including cufflinks, hair clips/pins, armlets, anklets, shawl pins, lapel pins, etc. Inspired by nature and culture, and combining all art forms in a single ring, Sevan Bıçakçı keeps a painter, a sculptor, an enameller, and a calligrapher on his team.

Laleli Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Ring, Laleli. Gold, silver, diamond, enamel, ceramic micro-mosaic, smoky rock crystal with dome and minarets engraving.

Ring (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Ring, Two Sides of the Bridge. Gold, silver, diamond, enamel with views of Galata and Eminönü, rock crystal with a flock of seagulls engraving.

Surmak Susmak (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Susmak was born in Sivas in 1958. At 12, he began working as an apprentice for Antrantik Yeşilçimen by welding with gasoline. After his apprenticeship, Susmak opened his own shop. A painter and sculptor as well, Susmak sees nature as his primary source of inspiration in creating and executing his works

Dove Accessory with Earrings (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Earrings, ring and shoulder accesory, Dove. Gold, emerald and diamond.
“…Our master always taught us about posture, how to sit, etc. That’s what the master is; he sets an example by demeanor. He is kind of like a parent. When they let us go, we always strived to be worthy of that trust. The biggest treasure was the way we conducted ourselves, as we learned from our masters during apprenticeship. Our master would say things like, ‘boys, don’t ever interfere with the carat. The carat is your honor.’ This had a great impact on us; it is worth a fortune…”
Master Jeweler Surmak, 26.06.1

Set (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Necklace, brooch and ring set, "Life and Sultanate". Gold, emerald and diamond.

Hrant & Şant Zorbaş (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Hrant Usta practices his profession at the same workshop with his son Şant Usta, also a stone setter. Hrant Usta’s Master Kadim Arzuman, whom he began apprenticing for in 1970 immigrated to the U.S. and decided to continue his profession there. Arzuman, who learned his craft at Çuhacı Han, trained three apprentices, one of which was his own son.

Partam Derderyan (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Derderyan was born in Istanbul in 1955. At the age of 11, he joined his master’s workshop at Varakçı Han. He continued to work at the same place upon his return from military service at the age of 20. Having completed his 50th year at the same workshop, stone-setter Partaryan’s master, the 77 year-old Harutyan Matadyan, for whom he worked as an apprentice for 8 years, trained 18-19 apprentices. Matadyan has been living in the U.S. since 1978. Master Partam is training two apprentices at his workshop.

Sebuh Yılmaz (2017)Rezan Has Museum

Yılmaz was born in Istanbul in 1955. In 1970, he began working as an apprentice to Migirdic Kokciyan, who then had a workshop at Çuhacı Han. A master himself by 1980, Yılmaz trained five apprentices. He continues to perform his craft at Selek Han. Master Sebuh is specialized in Turkish style (Alaturka mıhlama) diamond setting.

General View, 5 (2017)Rezan Has Museum

The tradition of mastership at the Grand Bazaar is an extension of the Ehl-i Hıref organization, otherwise known as the master-apprentice production system particular to the Ottoman Empire. The transmission of knowledge, expertise, and experience observed in the master-apprentice relationship is simply priceless. When we observe the structural dynamics in the master-apprentice relationship, we find that the traditional ‘master’ figure is inherently the person that leaves a strong enough impact on the young apprentice to shape his entire profession. The master’s protective role and, as well as his powerful and effective influence like a father figure, are the most critical and determining factors for the prospective master in training.

Today, Istanbul has become a highly cosmopolitan city; it is rather difficult to find apprentices that one can comfortably rely on and entrust expensive and valuable materials and goods with

Credits: Story

Curators: Ayşe Coşkun & Yonca Kösebay Erkan
Coordinator: Zeynep Çulha
Project Asistants: Nazlı Yayla, Ecem Aslan
Exhibition Design: PATTU
Video Design and Production: Serkan Bayraktaroğlu
Illustration: Çınar Narter
İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Pera Müzesi
Atatürk Kitaplığı
Topkapı Sarayı
SALT Araştırma
F. Gülrû Tanman
Rukiye Kuneralp
Pınar Çulha Moler
Arman Suciyan
Rıdvan Gürün
Fuat Kırgız
Taşkın Temeller
Aret Çakıcı
Hraç Aslanyan
Çınar Narter
Gülbahar Baran Çelik BurcuYağız
Tahsin Demir
Azize Gelir Çelebi

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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