A Cobalt Kaftan

It was several years ago when I first met Şeyda Aksu, the designer of this pendant. We met through a friend of a friend when we were just starting Citara's and I loved how she combined traditional motifs, shapes and objects with something that is functional and contemporary.

The pendant itself is in the shape of a kaftan and is embellished with the tuğra which would originally have been used by the sultan himself for authenticity.  Şeyda has used cobalt blue in this piece which is also a very traditional color, but very wearable today.

When we visted her atelier we sat for a long time drinking tea and listening to her talk about her process and her inspiration. She was a charming artist with good design sense and a strong connection to her culture. 

What spoke to me about Şeyda's artwork and style is that it represented what I've been trying to do with Citara's - that is to create a modern-day collection of handcrafted products that reflect Turkish culture and tradition while at the same time having a place in a modern wardrobe.

As an undergraduate one of my favorite classes was History of the English Language taught by one of my all-time favorite professors, Dr. Cory Wade. She asked us the difference between a dead and living language. A dead language, she explained, is one that may still be spoken, but does not change.  It is fixed.  In contrast, a living language is spoken, but it is fluid and changes as people use it.

And this is where my philosophy about preserving traditional culture through art stems from - that if it exists as it always has, it is like a dead language - people can still appreciate it, but they don't get to experience it. They can visit it in museums or history books, but they don't get to live it.

By bringing these traditional aspects of culture into modern day living, we get to tell the story again.  But like putting this pendant around our neck, we actually get to experience the beauty of history while living in the modern way we are accustomed to. The traditions live on, but are adapted to something we can relate to.

Oh my - I did not intend to dive so deep into this subject, so I'll end with a very practical question for the fashionistas out there - how would you wear this pendant and on what occasion? I would love to get your ideas!

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