The Balouch tribes are unevenly distributed among Afghanistan, Iran & Pakistan. As weavers, they have a reputation as copists of other peoples' designs, however what they have borrowed, they have interpreted in an unmistakable and unique Balouchi way.Shining through the immediate impression of dark & sombre colourscan be seen a patina of tribal life and history, a reflection of the harshness of the landscape, climate and the traditional nomadic lifestyle.
Balouchi weavers use multiple techniques in their kilims, including a combination of weft-faced patterning, weft-wrapped brocading and knotted pile, all put together in horizontal bands of complex interlocking motifs & patterns. THe end result is a work of artthat has a wonderful grandeur and dignity all its own.
THe finest Balouchi kilims use very dark & rich colours; indigo blue, black and deep madder red. the weaving is very tight, giving excellent durability.
The sombreness is completly removed by the limitless variation of tone, and the enlivening effect of ivory wool or white cotton.Occasionally the weaver will add a touch of silk or synethic yarn dyed vivid pink or orange or lime green; this is highly regarded because of its rarity in an environment & lifestyle which is harsh and unadorned.
Some of the most beautiful (and affordable) Balouch weaving can be found in the many bags of various sizes which are very much a part of tribal life. Mary Kelly Kilims usually has an impressive selection of saddlebags to choose from.
Two Markets, Two Continents: A Culinary Tour in Istanbul.
The runaway favourite highlight of our recent trip to Istanbul was a walking culinary tour with Culinary Backstreets. This company operates several different walking tours in Istanbul; the one we chose was 'Two Markets,Two Continents'. It is truly an extroadinary way to experience Istanbul away from the tourists.
It was outstanding and I cannot reccommend it enough. We were two groups of 6, (the maximum as many of the eateries are tiny) and both guides, Benoit & Gonca were local, knowledgable, passionate and huge fun. And of course, as well as the quality and variety of food it offers, we picked up a great variety of information about Istanbul life and history.
The day started at 9.00am and finished about 4.30pm. We did lots of walking but it was easy going and of course we had frequent stops for eating & drinking.
This route draws from the best-of list in the European side's Karakoy neighbourhood and the Asian side's Kadikoy, tied together by a ferry ride on the Bosphorus.
Kadikoy holds the highest concentration of traditional food shops & eateries in the city and encompasses Ottoman, Persian & Armenian Cuisines. The tour is a wonderful way to begin to understand some of the true building blocks of Turkish society, from nomadic tribal cooking to modern turkish cuisine and the wonderful cultural melting-pot that makes up modern day Istanbul.
NB. I would reccommend you take a Culinary Backstreets tour early on during your stay in Istanbul so that you can return to your favourite spots.