Istanbul's Hidden Crafts

There are 4 layers here: First, the oldest skills of Eastern creativity; Second, old and distinguished works of once-called "lonca" craftsmen's organisations; Third, latest designs created by contemporary desires and technology; Fourth, most valuable raw materials of all times: gold, silver, diamond and more"*

  • 09.01.2017
  • Emine Nural Öztürk

Fotoğraf: Sibel Öztürk

We are on our way to a peaceful and enchanted strore of Nick Merdenyan’s. Mr. Merdenyan is known as brother Nick, in KapalıÇarşı. Whom ever we ask of him, they all reply “that Nick, who deals with leaves, right?”. Yes, that is right. Dealing with leaves... Such a different skill! Ornamenting leaves with common monotheistic religions’ motifs, imposing the missions of those religions on leaves.. That is why he calls his leaves as "missionary leaves". Islam had started with precepts decency then Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism were added to those precepts. “We have started with Islam because this is an artwork of Islam culture” says Nick.

The story of how Nick has started to this artwork is as interesting as this skill. For the baptism of his son, he received a potted plant as a gift. When it grew pale, he took leaves and kept them in pages of a book. A couple of years later, Nick found those leaves in the book by chance. He had felt an excitement in his bones! Then he decided to work with a craftsman, who was skilled in calligraphy, for doing "calligraphy on a leaf" that had never done before. What comes out of this art are love, indulgence and pure beauty!

Thus, what is the mystery about these leaves? Difenbahya leaves come from Florida. Nick dries leaves carefully. Because of being more moist, leaves get moved once in a week, after that they get moved once in two weeks. Drying process continues carefully in this way. So, where the routine comes from? It is all about having the experience..


These leaves are magical. They are the leaves that spread energy, love and tolerance to rooms where are they. Nick treat leaves carefully and they are all unique artworks. Generally they produce by order. They certify all the works and give documentary of them. It comes possible to see all phases by this way.


So, What is written on these leaves?



There are ‘’Ayete’l-Kürsi’’ (script from the Holy Quran) and other prayers on these leaves. When it observed with the magnifying glass, there are little letters called “dust writing” and they are written by cat hair bursh. They get written in a minute or two and waited to continue again. Actually it is an art that is reflection of patience,  grace and elegancy.



On this leaf, writings and motifs represent three big religious beliefs. Different roses come from the same root; they all belong to same value. What a beautiful message, common precepts of decency... 


All of these is an effective atmosphere of Kapalıçarşı, that makes you feel as if you were living in a fairy tale. That is an amazing culture, establishing to be a barn of a racecourse but has been a millennial indoor bazaar!


Still having craftsmen are in solidarity, crying for people’s grief and being glad of others happiness, living in a generous history, it is all about living...


The writings on Nick’s leaves, the values that tell all the story from the beginning of being, Nick and all of them are us. Those leaves are our breeze; whisper our stories to others from different houses, cities and countries. In this way, we get united with those people we bearly know before. This is the phase called “From the one who makes as who we are, to the one who makes us as one”. From meerschaum crafts to become “the chief of leaves”, Nick reminds us the beauty of being together, the importance of love and tolerance. How happy is he who meets Nick, how happy is he who finds the path that opens its ways to love, tolerance and spirituality. Nick, God bless you!


*Küçükerman, Ö. (2010). Kapalıçarşı. NTV İstanbul Ansiklopedisi.



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