turkey, istanbul, ethnography, shoeshine, new shoes, shiny shoes, anthropoloy, collections, moesgaard museum,

Holiday at last, kids! Time for work…: Turkish shoe-shining set

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What did your kids do for the Easter Holiday? Hunt for Easter eggs in the garden? Watch TV and play with Legos? Stay up later than usual and spend the mornings bumming around in their pyjamas?

I can promise you that the children of the owner of this shoe-shining set did no such thing. In the Ethnographic Collections at Moesgaard Museum, we have quite a number of these shoe-shining sets, and they are the most wonderful things. Made to be carried around, it is full of everything a diligent shoe shiner might need: Brushes (one for black and one for brown shoe polish), sponges, spatulas, bottles of all kinds of shoeshine, rags and so on and so forth. All while also functioning as a footstool for the customer. And from the markets of India to an Istanbul hotel, the boxes are remarkably similar.

This shoe shining set belonged to one Mr Durmus Gezen, doorman at a hotel in Istanbul with a side job as a shoe shiner. His children, age six and eight when he sold this box to the collector in 1989, would help their father at his side business during their vacations.

So, if the kids complain that they are not going to the amusement park or the zoo this Easter holidays, tell them that at least they are not on the streets of Istanbul shining shoes. Now, I don’t know anything about Mr Gezen and his two children, but I actually like to imagine that holidays spent with their father, learning a something about what it takes to bring food on the table was not altogether a bad thing.

We, at ethnographica.net wish you all a happy Easter, whether you are working or not.

//Sophie Seebach

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putting thought to things

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