Kavas & Dancer
During the Empire of Ottoman Dynasty in the 16th and 17th century, the location of Istanbul between Europe and Asia made it an important centre of trade. Ships from Europe, the Black Sea and the Indian Ocean brought goods like drugs, grain, mirrors, and furs and caravans carried them to the Middle East. Similarly, caravans from Asia carried silk, tea, spices and porcelain to Istanbul and ships transferred them to Europe. The market was big and many people came to the city as traders, merchants to sell or buy and some people like magicians, musicians and dancers came to show their skills. They first built small stands on the streets, then expanded into larger open markets called bazaars. A bazaar was an important part of the social life of Istanbul and was full of interesting characters. The sculptor, inspired by the orientalist oil paintings of the famous French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, portrayed two colourful personalities of Istanbul bazaar in this vignette; a Kavas and a dancer.
Kavas was the municipal police officer of the Ottoman Empire who controlled the streets, shops and bazaars. Kavas maintained the order, checked the trade, caught any thieves in the bazaars and took them to the courthouse. Kavas were honest, trustable people and had good relations with the traders. They had typical clothing with a strong dominance of red and carried weapons.
Dancer: mostly coming from the Middle east, were fascinating ladies performing their dances by using body language (belly dance). They danced for ordinary people who could not pay much but always dreamed of dancing for the Sultan in his palace, paid with jewellery, maybe even become part of his harem.
Kavas fez hat, jacket, trousers and leggings in red with gold embroidery. Turban wrapped over fez hat and cloth belt in white. Shoes in brown leather. Sword with ivory hilt in a leather scabbard, pistol in metal and wood.
Belly dancer - She can be painted in any colour the painter wishes but the skirt must be a transparent black veil.
Sculptors: Figures by Maurizio Bruno; Scene by Stefano D’Antonio
Historical Notes by Engin Kayral