Today, foreign visitors come to Istanbul armed with their smartphone and leave loaded down with memories. Travelers of the seventeenth century, however, had no such luxuries to remind them of this exotic city with its rich costumes and strange customs when they returned home. Instead, they turned to the bazaar (çarşı) painter, who would compile an album of miniature paintings along the visitor’s desired theme.
In these çarşı paintings, in the stunning air of motionlessness, the artist records the costumes, customs, and scenes from everyday life, in a manner that can be instantly understood. With their spontaneity, candidness and directness, they stand removed from the intellectual statements of the professional court artists. That is, the bazaar artist started with the elimination of everything superfluous. The scene is depicted with the greatest economy and without overcrowding, and the result is a mixture of childlike spontaneity and instinctive pictorial sense. Sometimes it packs more correct visual information into the image than a photograph ever could.
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