By Heidi Trautmann
It seems to be the signs of the times at the moment for many to pause on one’s road of life and make a statement about the good old times. It is frustrating to observe the disappearance of traditions and values, of good craftsmanship, of quality of life, the taste of a tomato or potato from one’s own garden, the feeling of home spun silk sheets beneath the hot skin in summer; I could go on forever with a list of things which were still existent 50 to 100 years ago and which seem to slide into obscurity for our younger generation.
Mr. Ergün Pektaş, born in Nicosia in 1944, thinks just the same and we talked about it at length when I visited him and his daughter Derya in their unbelievingly beautiful and interesting private museum in Yenişehir which will be officially opened in a short while, towards the end of July 2012.
As a young man already he started to appreciate the items he found in villages, his appetite was wet by the things he had inherited from his grandparents, and he continued for all his life to collect everything from furniture to home woven linen and silk, art objects and jewellery, most beautiful samples of embroidery, to tools used for craft. He said: “Before ready-made cheap products flooded our markets we used to produce everything ourselves, from the cheese we ate to the socks we wore; we still had artisans who knew their jobs, today they are extinct or on the brink of it. That was freedom for us, we were independent.”
The building, in which the huge collection of utensils of Cypriot life has found a permanent home now, used to be the factory hall of Ergün Pektaş company Rubberex.Co.Ltd. producing Latex gloves which he had to give up in 1997. He had studied industrial chemistry in England and worked there for the London Rubber Industries and ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) Ltd. as experimental officer. When he came back to Cyprus in 1973, he founded the company and had 50 people employed in good times.
Over eight years now, he has been planning and working to adapt the hall to the requirements of a museum with the occasional advice from architects. He had in mind to keep the entire height of it and to create various living centres on three levels, to not only show the objects as such but to display them in a certain concept of daily life. Thus he created a typical old traditional coffee-shop with the barber corner in it, as I have still seen myself in action in Kozanköy, the life on the porch of a house, but also coppersmith, blacksmith, pottery workshops and the like; porcellain from Ottoman and British times, Lapta ceramics and other objects produced and handed down from parents to children.
One year ago, Derya Pektaş, daughter of a German mother from Passau, joined her father in his efforts to organise and finalise the project, coming back from Germany, where she had studied conservation and restoration, and also worked in her profession. Her last project was the restoration of a hatchment of the 15th century. Her experience is very important since the collected items such as wooden objects have to be examined for wood worms and other damage, and also the technical details such as listing and researching historical background is a matter of further research and expertise. In this connection Ergün and Derya would be most grateful for the visitors to give their comments on the objects displayed. Researchers on ethnographic items, folk art and Cypriot history are also asked for cooperation, as there is little written documentation on these objects.
In the outside space we find displayed all sorts of millstones and farming equipment; this section is still not finished and it is planned to have active workshops there to show how things were done, the things grandparents did for the up-keeping of family and livestock. Ah yes, livestock is already at home on the museums grounds and the children from the nearby kindergarten often come to talk to the hen and rabbits and the beautiful peacock.
It is a place to feel at home and after the guided tour Derya gave me, we sat down with father Ergün in his museum café and talked about the good old things in life.
Where to find the museum? In Şehit Ecvet Yusuf Cad. No.56 Yenişehir/Nicosia. You go on the highway Nicosia/Ercan and turn off to Kızılbaş into town – on the left is a green Alpet Petrol Station – and shortly after the big roundabout at the big church you will find (on your left) a school-building, a kindergarten, and right there, into this private road, you enter to find a big parking space behind the school.
Visiting hours are
Monday to Saturday: 09.30 – 16.00 hrs.