Collector seeks prayer beads, serenity at Turkish auctions

Collector seeks prayer beads, serenity at Turkish auctions

KIRŞEHİR - Anatolia News Agency
Collector seeks prayer beads, serenity at Turkish auctions

İbrahim Özdemir has been collecting prayer beads from various auctoins for long years and keep them in his three-storey home in Kırşehir. AA Photo

A native of the Central Anatolian province of Kırşehir, 71-year-old İbrahim Özdemir has been collecting prayer beads since his father gave him his first strand in 1947. His collection of over 1,000 pieces include beads from Ottoman Sultan Reşad, as well as ones made of wood, animal bone, teeth and various metals. Özdemir was inspired by prayer bead collections he saw in German museums in 1970.

Upon returning to Turkey, he began to use his three-storey home in Kırşehir to house a budding collection. Özdemir attended auctions across the country in search of special prayer beads.

Over 1,000 beads

“I have more than 1,000 kinds of prayer beads. I love them, thanks to my father, because he brought me a prayer bead made of caretta caretta (loggerhead sea turtle) shell from his pilgrimage,” he said.
According to Özdemir, the cost of prayer beads depends on their material and workmanship. “There is a place called Prayer Bead Palace in Kayseri. People who have antique prayer beads go there every day and sell them to others. There is the same system in Konya, Şanlıurfa and Istanbul’s Antikalar Avenue in Beyoğlu.

There are prayer beads from various regions. For example, Kayseri’s artisans have valuable silver and gold prayer beads. The people of Erzurum give importance to black amber.”

No city can match Istanbul in precious prayer bead production, he said. “We see precious, semi-precious and regular beads when we visit places. Prayer beads can be produced from all precious stones like turquoise, coral fossils, lapis, amethyst and others. There are also those made of animal bone, teeth or nails.”

‘They are a treasure’

Prayer beads are very precious to those who know their value, according to Özdemir. “They are a treasure for these people. Collectors came here last year. They asked me to give them some beads in exchange for a villa and a new car anywhere I like. But I did not give them anything. I cannot collect them once again. This is a matter of culture and taste. They boost my morale and give me oxygen.”

A Jewish businessman wanted Sultan Reşad’s prayer beads but Özdemir did not sell them either. “I also have his amber cigarette holder, grouting lance and envelope opener. I got them at an auction in Bursa for 4,500 Turkish Liras. It is the heritage of our ancestors,” he said.