On the first day of the first Duke in Istanbul excursion in Cappadocia, Anatolia, we went straight to business on a brief straight-to-businesslike tour of an underground ceramics museum/workshop/showroom/store. Occupying the main section of the subterranean structure is the museum. Pottery and tiles through glazes and the ages line earthen walls, examples of contemporary blue and white designs adorn all ceramics alike, Hittite wine jugs from dynastic days as well as prehistoric, neolithic animalistic and anthropomorphic figurines, culminate in an artistic and aesthetic feast of profiles, patterns and pigments. But soon we were whisked into the workshop, where we received a speedy rundown of the production line of craftsmen and artisans displaying their craft and incredible skill through intricate illustrations and paintings of concentric floral designs, landscapes and calligraphy as well as the rapid mass manufacturing of pottery with moulds and rudimentary but highly efficient and productive semi-automated trimming techniques that facilitate the running of this could-be museum/arts and crafts haven as a mass producing, tourist attracting racket.
The penultimate stop of the tour was at the showroom where we were treated to a choice of cay or apple tea gratis as we watched an experienced artisan/performer clairvoyantly throw a sugar container atop a narrow pillar-like foot-powered wheel. Then Rachel had a go, but sadly couldn’t keep her centrifuged creation. Last but by no means least was the cavernous hoard of earthenware for sale where generic commercial ceramics were segregated from those blessed by the rich colours and sophisticated designs of passed down family patterns and noble insignia. The latter lacked price tags, priceless perhaps, perhaps not, their value in artistic creativity converted to currency and meticulous labour translated to Turkish lira or USD in private back rooms. Time is money, ceramics is business but there is much that can be learnt.