Library of
Design, Art and Idea

Sabiha Tansuğ Interview

23.02.2015
Vol. 5

Sabiha TANSUĞ; the woman who devoted herself to Anatolian clothing culture and having a big heart...

An eight floor apartment at the beginning of Ortaklar Caddesi in Mecidiyeköy. When I arrived to 7th floor, I faced with a beautiful woman with blue eyes, blonde, smart clothed and eyes with expressions... I phoned her a few days ago for having a talk. When she invited me to her flat in Mecidiyeköy used as a museum, I cannot believe it but I was really ashamed then. I am the one bragging that I know the Anatolian geography and I know it by living, but I am unaware of the museum two streets away from my business, just right in front of my eyes. I am really ashamed. Each title of Mrs. Sabiha is a story, a novel, a movie, a documentary to be long told... Some of us would remember her from the allowances that are taken from fathers, some of them from “toss-up” bets. Because Tansuğ is the “Bride from Ankara” traditional wedding theme, at the back of 50 kuruş coin that left a mark in 70s... Today Tansuğ is still beautiful with her blonde hair, blue eyes... I would like to mention about Mrs. Sabiha, her heart that she devoted for this country and cultural journey with small titles. In 1940s, she is a line of a family, who left the land for good in which she was born, with a few pieces of stuff on a carriage, early in the morning from Komotini of western Thrace, it is unknown whether it is the water of Balkans or not! Mrs. Sabiha another blonde with blue eyes... It is impossible to interrupt the words and her nice talk of a neat lady from palace with her perfect Turkish and fluent speaking... Therefore I wanted to begin with single long sentence; You have interest in the regional cloths, collectionist, art lessons from Nuri İyem and many titles, would you please continue with your epic telling, without me interrupting! We were living in the mansion of grandfather Recep Aga with uncles, sister in laws, aunts... That mansion was located in a garden in which numerous fruit and various flowers were blloming. My father was coming from a civil servant family; my mother is a daughter of trader Aga. They are both trained in Ottoman. My father was educated in Uskudar Madrasa. In the time English occupied Istanbul, she returned to the wester Thrace upon the break out of typhoid epidemic. After the Alphabet revolution, she has learnt Turkish from the alphabet cardboards that come from Turkey. My mother and father are intellectual people, promptly they teamed up a group; and became voluntary trainers in towns and villages. My father then became a village teacher. We have left Komotini in the beginning of 1940s. It was really affected me that I was leaving our garden, street my apricot tree that I built home on one of its branch, singed a song on it. I clearly remember that I placed seeds in a bag I sew while going for migration journey at my childhood ages. At the end of the journey, we have arrived to the shores of Maritza. In the carriages of others, who were accompanying us, they had chickens even dogs among other stuff. They carried all of us to the opposite shore with the help of a Turkish soldier in one of the Turkish boats that come from the opposite shore of the Maritza. Our first stop was Manisa. Then we lived in many places around İzmir. I started my education in İzmir. Then I continued to Institute. My brother started his education in the free boarding school in Manisa. We were maintaining our lives in tough conditions. Then, I started continuing my education in Göztepe girls’ institute. When in holidays, I worked in figs and tobacco stores. After these works, that never made me happy, I started sewing baby clothes for the stores in Kemeraltı. My brother was invited to the Fine Arts Academy in 1951, but when acquaintance said “pick a job that you can earn money, you will starve”, next year he started in Faculty of Pharmacy. This time, we had migrated to Istanbul. A house in Fatih is rented and we started living together. We were visiting the museums and mosques of Istanbul when we had a chance. My first meeting with the regional clothes: In first grade of primary schools, my mother had me wear “eğribaş” in 23 April. (Eğribaş is a hood that women wear regional for Maritza) This became the foundation of my interest, love and curiosity in regional cloths. I was one of the most beautiful dressing girls in Göztepe girl Art Institute. I was sewing and selling hats. I was sewing dresses for the stone puppets that are sold in Kemeraltı. I was inspired from Anatolian apparels. My Collection Adventure : I married journalist Haluk Tansuğ in 1965. In one of our holidays, while going to Bodrum, our bus has failed in Maritza. While waiting it to be repaired, I walked around. I saw the eğribaş that I wore and never forgot in first grade. I was amazed. I bought it for 35 Lira. I remembered the hoods that I saw in different regions, I said “Why don’t I collect them?”. And there it is, I devoted my whole life. By the way I had Art courses from Nuri İyem in the Recreation organization in Istanbul founded by sculpture Lerzan Bengisu. They were the years I was getting comfortable economically... because; I was working with the Lütfiye Arıbal who was a famous tailor in Beyoğlu. Then I started sewing for the elite families in Caddebostan. As my husband involved in trade, we purchased our first car and went abroad. Vienna; palaces, museums, cafeterias... then visiting Paris, costume museums, Musee de l’homme, Louvre after that seeing British museum in London, village museum which is founded in Romania in Kingdom age, open air village museum in Hungary have incredibly impressed me...
After this impression, they are all like envoys of Anatolian culture even only we approach to laces within thousand type of women hand arts. Therefore, we have gathered objects from Anatolia together with my husband for forty years. There hundred, thousands of objects. Each of them has thousand work, various colors and magnificent story. I am willing to pass this collection future generations. For this, I have written more than 200 articles and two books called “Türklerde Çiçek Sevgisi ve Sümbülname', 'Türkmen Giyimi' ve ' Anadolu Giyim Kültürü”. Also there are my prepared books which are not yet published. And many more including symposiums that I participated nationally and internationally, my overseas exhibitions with participation of Ministry of Culture Foreign Affairs and my publication including these activities. We are losing. If there is no museum, what shall we leave for future?. Countries that aware of the importance of this, they exhibit not only their cultures but also world cultures in their museums. Museum Idea and Pierre Loti café: My Europe Journey in 1963 is very important. Costume museums that I saw in those countries attracted my very attention. I thought that “Even single Anatolian village may become a very large museum”. My mind was still into cafes that I saw in Vienne and Paris. I returned to my country. I reopened Pierre Loti café by restoring according to tradition in May 1964. It was interested, loved and still not forgotten. Istanbul of 1964 have raided there. To find a vacant spot, they were making reservation days ago. My Photo On The Money: I have opened the exhibition “Anatolian Women Hoods” in Galatasaray Bank of Yapı Kredi in 1968. Manager of the Mint in these times Sait Tanaçan said “I would like to take your photo with one of these hoods and print on one of our coins. Would you let me?” I said that I would be glad. My picture with Ankara bride hood was taken. I signed on a paper that I would have no demands as a compensation. Three years had passed. I took that exhibition to Japan, (EXPO 1970) then to Paris. While I was in Paris, my mother in law said that my picture was printed on 50 Kuruş coin and introduced in the market. After a few days, she sent a 50 Kuruş coin with envelope. I was very excited. I was lying develop wings and fly. Something like this was first in the world. I guess that was the event that I had been happy most... My Deepest Sorrow: What I became most sad is not the converted of my collection into museum, not being this enormous collection known by anyone, not being able to introduce this culture to the world, not taking this treasure to day light which may be source for sociological and anthropological studies... Is there any bigger sorrow? You bring a child into world, but you do not show it the world! This was my movement point; She received a numerous awards including “Public Sciences Award” organized in the name of our famous Folklorist Pertev Naili Boratav, she introduced also many exhibitions, writings, articles, books, pictures... endless production, endless excitement and effort... My writings for Sabiha Tansuğ who is a woman of brave heart and has also endless projects to actualize, be sure it is like quote from a page of very large book. It is also necessary for whoever had a chance to read this article, to see Sabiha TANSUĞ museum in Ortaklar Street. If any chance it gets an opportunity to have a chat, that day is meant as a present given by life itself. I hope you get this chance and I have endless respect and thanks in the name of me and readers of Box in a Box Idea to honorable lady of palace.
Vol. 5
Pari Dukovic Interview News from Art