Rezan Has Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

The Rezan Has Museum is a private museum in Istanbul, Turkey dedicated to culture and arts. Rezan Has, spouse of the wealthy Turkish businessman Kadir Has, founded the museum in May 2007. The museum, situated in a historical building, is located in Cibali neighborhood of Fatih district on the southern shore of the Golden Horn. It is open to public every day between 9–18 local time.

The museum has a very unusual archaeological collection, and provides space for exhibitions within the Kadir Has University’s building, a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage winning redevelopment from the historical “Cibali Tabacco Factory”.

The museum consists of a cistern dating back to the 11th century, called “Karanlık çeşme” (literally: “The Dark Fountain”), which is one of the few Byzantian structures outside of the Walls of Constantinople along Golden Horn. Another important part of the museum is a hamam ruin from the 17th century of the Ottoman era, which is situated at the top of the cistern.

Hosting genuine exhibitions and cultural activities since 2007 in the frame of its vigorous museum studies, Rezan Has Museum has become a museum site connecting the past to the future with its Ottoman structure dated back to 17th century and Byzantine cistern to 11th century. The Museum enriched its collection by acquiring documents and objects belonging to Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory in 2009 along with its collection of archeological artifacts with nearly a history of 9,000 years.

Significant investments were made aiming to turn Golden Horn into a center where city festivals and special events take place among the museums and cultural centers during the post-industrial transformation process of this district. In particular these substantial and significant investments are being made paying utmost respect to the building heritage located in the Northern part of the Golden Horn (factories, shipyards, building cradles and launch ways, electricity power stations, slaughterhouses and so on). Now, the Northern part of the Golden Horn is in the process of being transformed into a cultural centre where historical buildings starting from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, “Tersane-i Amire (Maritime Arsenal and Dockyard of the Kaptan Pasha (Captain of the Sea), “Aynalıkavak Pavillion”, Rahmi M. Koç Industry Museum”, “Sütlüce Culture Center” “Miniatürk” and “Silahtarağa Museum District” with their rich cultural heritage stand all along its coastal line. For the Southern coastal line of the Golden Horn, in particular the district between Eminönü and Eyüp where almost all historical and cultural heritage of its port structure was destroyed, it is however, unfortunately not possible to mention about a concentrated activity similar to that of Northern part. Although some important points of attraction such as Fener- Balat and Tahtakale are situated at the inner side, the southern coastal line of the Golden Horn remains poor in terms of cultural structuring other than Feshane-i Âmire”, “Women’s Work Library” “Zindan Han” and “Baba Cafer Zindanı” whereas a very intensive cultural structuring has been taking place at the north shoreline of the Golden Horn. The Golden Horn is being transformed into a “port museum”, nevertheless the Southern part should also be balanced through intensive activities similar to that of the Northern part. In this sense, the “Rezan Has Museum ” that was established and located inside the Kadir Has University is a very important initiative and fills a very important gap within the framework of such an important strategic geography.

Kadir Has University’s main building which was converted from Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory by Kadir Has Foundation in 2002 has been granted the European Nostra Award in 2003 due to its extremely meticulous and comprehensive restoration and its contributions to the historical environment in which it is situated. The venue opened to the public as Rezan Has Museum when the ruins of a structure dating back to the Ottoman era and a Byzantine cistern found underneath this historical building following the completion of its restoration.

Haliç which is one of the world’s oldest places of inhabitancy of the world was known as Golden Horn (khrysokeras) in the ancient periods. Name of region has then changed to Keras in the Byzantine period and Haliç-i Konstantiniyye in the Ottoman period and it has taken its today’s form, Haliç, in the subsequent periods.

The legend of the Bosphorus including also Haliç comes from the forbidden love lived between Zeus at the level of Gods and Io, the daughter of Inakhos who was the King of Argos. According to the legend, Bosphorus takes its name from the lecherous actions of Zeus and story of beautiful Io who has become the victim of Hera’s (Zeus’s wife) jealousy. Zeus falls in love with Io, the princess of Argos, one day. And, he wants to keep Io out from Hera’s rage by transforming it to a white cow as he was afraid of her anger. But Hera is aware of what’s going on. Hera puts a sentinel with hundred eyes first, but Hera has to set a horsefly on her neck to bother Io after she manages to get rid of the sentinel with the help of Zeus and Hermes. Poor Io has to keep traveling around the whole ancient world to get rid of the horsefly. She passes through the Bosphorus during her travel which will be called with this name meaning -the Passage of Cow/Ox- afterwards. But, Hera gets sorry for Io who is pregnant at that time as she is also a mother and takes the horsefly from her neck. Io gives birth to a female baby at the Asian shores of Bosphorus and they give her the name Keroessa. This girl has then a son from Poseidon called Byzas who will establish a city at the placed he has born in the future.

Seferikos Cistern and Ottoman Structure

The cisterns, water reservoirs made of stone, were structures which played an important role in meeting water requirements of Istanbul in Byzantine period. The Byzantine period cistern taking place in our museum and dated back to late 11th century is comprised of 48 arches, 15 pillars and 20 columns. This structure having a square-like rectangular plan was built directly to accumulate water.

After losing its function as a cistern, it was first used as the tobacco warehouse of Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory and then as a supply warehouse during the 2nd World War.

It is thought that the building remains within the exhibition area belong to the 17th century AD. The structure consists of two separate blocks. Although the ultimate purpose of use is not yet known It is estimated that it has a function for the use of water.

Urartian Jewellery Collection
“Urartian Jewellery Collection of Rezan Has Museum”, which is almost one of the most comprehensive Urartian Period collections of Turkey, is composed of approximately 1.100 artefacts of which 74 are belts. The Urartians, whose culture is unique only to Anatolia, crafted bronze, gold, silver and iron in a superior artistry by mining the rich mineral deposits of the region. The belts, necklaces, bracelets, armbands, neck rings, medallions, decorative pins, fibulae, rings were not just jewelleries for the Urartians but also had religious meaning.

As Rezan Has Museum, we assimilate the invaluable heritage of Anatolian culture and take presenting to humanity by transforming it into information that is part of the social culture as a goal. In this regard, restoration and conservation of the Urartian jewelleries, which is a collection was created with transfer our cultural values to future generation awareness, conducted by our experts.

As it has approximately 2,000 archaeological objects in its collection, Rezan Has Museum opened a unique and special exhibition. 1,100 recently restored pieces of Urartian Jewellery went on view to the public at the museum. The exhibition, which is considered one of the most comprehensive in the world, consists of pieces such as jewelleries and belts that sentiment as favour, vanity and wealth. These two main groups of the exhibition are also important pieces in the way that they are the primary elements determining social status for centuries in Urartians.

The exhibition displayed a broad variety of jewellery that belonged to the Urartian Kingdom, a unique civilisation of Anatolia. The collection included pins, rings, earrings, bracelets, fibulas, belts and belt pieces, votive plaques, armbands, neck collars, necklaces, hair spirals and pectorals which are belonged to the mid-ninth century B.C.E.

There is also an interactive screen located in the Museum through which, collection catalogues and artefact photographs can observed in a detailed way. The screen also provides fun puzzles and matching games.

3D film revitalizes an Urartian citadel is also worth to watch.

Rezan Has Museum The Urartian Jewellery Collection Documentation, Examination and Conservation.

Wide Belts
It is not yet known whether other civilizations of the 1st thousand BCE used metal belts in the Near East as intensively as the Urartians did. Excavations of Urartian tombs and fortresses have uncovered hundreds of belts made of bronze. The 74 Urartian belts to be found in the Rezan Has Museum’s collection can be principally divided into three groups: narrow, medium and wide. The wide belts vary between 13 cm and 18 cm in width and 90 cm and 120 cm in length. The wide and medium sized belts were generally used by men. The bronze belts decorated with various ornamentation are thought to have been produced in the royal workshops. These belts engraved with scenes of cults and ceremonies provide us with important information on the system of the Urartian army, the weapons it used and the existence of military classes, such as chariot troops, infantry and cavalry. This is a bronze “Wide Belt With Cult and Ceremonical Scenes.”. A ceremonial scene is depicted on the surface. Two superimposed foot soldiers are depicted at the left end, and behind them follow three rows of horsemen, war chariots behind the horsemen and two further rows of horseman and war chariots. The cavalry are depicted at a gallop, with shields and spears. The horses in the chariots are depicted with one leg extended forward and the other static. Two people are standing on the war chariots. One is holding the bridle and the other is in the sacred hailing pose, extending his arms horizontally forming a V-shape.

Medium-Sized Belts
Urartian belts are divided into three main groups: narrow, medium sized and wide examples. This division is made based on the width of the belts. It is also possible to group Urartian belts according to the gender of the people who wore them. In this sense, the decoration on belts differs by gender as well. Lion and bull decorations are seen mostly on the wide and medium sized belts, which were used by men. These figures are not encountered on the narrow belts used by women. In addition to this, figures such as sheep, fish and water birds that were used on narrow belts do not appear on wide and medium-sized belts. In addition, on wide and medium sized belts, it is unlikely to see feasting scenes with the figure of a queen/goddess (?) in the middle, who sits on a backed throne at the central point of the feasting scene with female figures that are serving and bringing various gifts to this figure. This is a “Medium Sized Belt With Hunting Scenes.” The figures were generally arranged symmetrically. The figures and cavalry on the hunter vehicle hunt mythological creatures as well as lion and bull. Three winged divine figures with hunting equipment are placed on top of each other at the left end of the belt. A total of 99 figures are depicted in 33 successive columns on the belt. There is a loop-shaped buckle at the right end of the belt.

Narrow Belts
The width of narrow belts varies between 5.5/6 cm. and 8 cm and the length is between 60 cm and 90 cm. In contrast with the wide and medium sized belts, there are no string holes on the exterior border of narrow belts. This shows that the interior side didn’t cover a leather or woven lining. Narrow belts are different from wide and medium sized belts with their decoration, figural motifs and themes, as well as this technical data. While the figures on wide and medium-sized belts range from the center to the ends in a symmetric manner, the arrangement on narrow belts is usually from the ends to the center. Female figures, goats, sheep, fish and water birds, which are occasionally seen on wide and medium-sized belts, are depicted as part of the main scene. On narrow belts, a feasting scene which occurs in an open air situation usually takes place. In the center of a belt which was designed like this, sometimes in a space arranged with two-registers, a female figure (queen/goddess ?) who is sitting on a throne behind a table which is full of food and a dozen maids who are serving and bringing presents from two directions are seen. Also, scenes such as the entertainment of women playing instruments, acrobats and musicians, sacred offering scenes, castle depictions, weaving looms, weaving women, the figures of sheep, goats, fish and birds in series are seen. Besides this, it is possible to see lines of sprouts, which decorated the whole surface of wide and medium-sized belts, on narrow belts decorating the whole surface. Flat examples also exist, as well as the ones decorated with geometric and floral motifs and figures. This is a narrow belt with a banquet scene. The middle fragment of a bronze belt. A band of sprouts oriented back to back, interconnected with bow-shaped lines and bordered by a line of interlocking small loops runs along the outer border and the panels of the belt. Four fish figures are depicted in each of two horizontal panels placed on top of each other. In the main panel in the middle, a female figure is sitting on a throne with a backrest. A standing female figure is serving the seated individual. The seated figure is lifting the cup she is holding in both hands. The standing figure is presenting the object she is holding to the seated woman. Three walking bird figures are depicted in the panel on the left.

Dragon-Headed bronze bracelet. The preference for lion, snake and dragon heads in the bracelets widely used in Urartian culture is perceived as an indicator of force and power and it is also important in the sense that the gods were sacred animals. They also might have determined the social status of the people wearing them. In addition to their aesthetic appearance, the various forms of bracelets must have been worn with the belief in their protective powers. With the placement of the bracelets in graves as grave goods, they were intended to continue their protective powers into the afterlife.
Bronze bracelet of which both two ends terminate as dragon heads.

Earrings are remarkable among Urartian jewelry in terms of their forms and decorations. They are made of gold, silver, lead and especially bronze. They are generally plain loops or crescent and boat-shaped pieces with suspensions. The plain loops have variations, such as open ended, overlapping ends, beaded/nodular and boat-shaped types. The earrings with suspensions have variations such as pyramidal, conical and pendant-shaped types. Among these, the boat-shaped earrings are the most commonly used form in the Urartian period and the most sought-after type in the Near East, from the 3rd millennium BC onward. Earrings are also emphasized in Urartian visual arts, in addition to the excavation data. Earrings were popularly used by the 1st millennium BC cultures and were worn by both men and women in Urartu. In addition to plain earrings, Urartians produced earrings with a granulation technique, which is extremely demanding work. Earrings with suspensions are produced by hanging pendants of various forms on loop or boat-shaped earrings.

Hair Spirals
Hair spirals have overlapping ends. Their sizes are similar to the sizes of rings or slightly bigger. However, they differ from rings by their open ends. Urartian hair spirals can be divided into plain, decorated or attached types. They are mostly made of gold, silver and bronze and are made by forging. Their cross-section is round in shape and their ends were left plain or sometimes pointed. In some examples, a thin metal wire is wound to attach their ends to the hair. Hair spirals might have been used in order to make curls or adorn hair ends, like modern curlers. Another possibility is that they might have been worn on the ends of braided hair as a decorative accessory or in order to prevent it from getting loose. Spirals are placed at the ends of its shoulder-length hair. Hair spirals were mostly worn by women, as seen from examples above. However, the data shows that they were also worn by men. Visual arts showing that both men and women used hair spirals in Urartu and contemporary cultures are present in the 1st millennium BC in the Near East.

Fibulae, which can be seen as modern safety pins, are composed of a pin and a spring. Depictions on reliefs, terra-cotta and painted pots, as well as the archaeological data, indicate that fibulae were attached to clothes, on the shoulder, hip, arm and wrist. They were used both for decoration and for attaching cloth edges together. Bead necklaces or chains were suspended from them for decorative purposes. Make-up utensils or seals were also affixed to fibulae. It is generally accepted that fibulae have religious meanings. They were used for their religious power in daily life and they were placed in tombs to banish evil spirits in the afterlife. Fibulae were also used in the enshrouding of the dead. Fibulae were included in the Urartian jewelry repertoire due to the impact of the Phrygians in the second half of the 8th century BCE and were widely used. We know that they were used widely, due to fibulae unearthed in several excavations conducted at Urartian centers. Urartian fibulae are generally plain, however decorated examples also exist. The decorations may be incised lines or parallel grooves on the body. Fibulae with grooves on the body were widely used by the Urartians. The pin and the body are joined in various forms. In some examples, the pin’s wire is joined to one or more of the body branches by coiling. In this type of fibula, the head of the branch where the pin is coiled is made in the shape of a mushroom to prevent the pin from sliding. In other examples, the end of the wire that joins to the body is bent to form a spiral. A third type of joining technique in Urartian fibulae is seen in the example in which the pin is directly bent. Although there are different techniques for joining the pin with the body, fibulae with similar forms are seen in all the different groups.

The abundance of rings found in excavations in Urartian centers indicates that Urartian society used rings intensively in daily life. In addition to simple and plain examples, decorated rings with snake and dragon heads, as seen in bracelets, decorative pins and amulets, recalls religious functions in addition to aesthetic concerns. The use of similar figures such as dragon and snake heads on rings, bracelets and arm bands, recalls modern jewelry sets. Groups of rings attached together as chains were among the finds.It is difficult to guess for what purpose they were arranged together in this fashion. However, the owner of the rings might have wanted to collect all the rings he/she had used throughout his/her life. The different sizes of rings, appropriate for both children and adults, found within the same chain supports this argument. Bracelets, arm bands, earrings and spirals arranged in a similar way were encountered in the studies we conducted in various museums.

Neck Rings
Neck rings are named “ring necklaces” or “torques” in some publications, and are placed within the class of neckbands. These accessories are worn without attaching the ends. They are made of silver, bronze and iron, and were regarded as female jewelry. The differences in the diameters of the rings suggest that they were used by women of various ages.

Pectorals are rare among Urartian jewelry. They are generally made of bronze. A few examples made of silver, gold-plated silver and gold also exist. They are crescent-like in shape, with rings on both sides for suspension. They are evaluated as personal decorative objects, but they are also indicators of class and status in Urartian society, as well as decorative elements complementing a garment. Pectorals usually bear religious scenes. At the center of the pectorals are figures in the sacred hailing pose, winged creatures carrying cauldrons (buckets), the sacred tree or scenes of its fertilization, lions, bulls and mixed creatures. Examples with floral and geometric motifs are also found.

Bead necklace composed of carnelian beads. Beads are usually made of agate and carnelian, as well as magnesite, anthracite, chalcedony, calcite, serpentine, bone, frit, faience, glass, gold and bronze. They occur in the shape of cylinders, spheres, pipes, long barrels, ellipses, reels, spirals, with suspensions, convex biconical shapes, triangles, flat hexagons, flat spheres, animal heads and complete animals.

Bronze Oval Triangular Amulet. Amulets are generally made of stone or bronze. Urartians used many objects for adornment and as amulets, such as precious stones, metals and animal teeth. Amulets must have been used in order to protect the people who wore them against evil in Urartian culture.

A group consists of one armband and two bracelets. Armband is formed as a row of beads. On the other hand one bracelet is plain while the other is dragon-headed.. As with bracelets, Urartian armbands were also used by both men and women. The terminals of the bracelets and the armbands are generally shaped like snake and dragon heads. Armbands were also used as indicators of class and for protection, as were bracelets.

3D animation film installed within the Rezan Has Museum “Urartian Jewellery Collection” exhibition.

The Rezan Has Museum hosts archeological, cultural and arts exhibitions for limited times.

“Silent Witnesses From Neolithic Period to the Seljuks”
March 23, 2009 – May 30, 2012
Archeological items found between the Golden Horn and Anatolia.

New Stories
September 15-November 20, 2011
Works of Mehmet Kutlu, a contemporary Turkish ceramic artists.

Like Moths to the Flame-The Ottoman Fire Brigades
February 24-August 31, 2011
Devices and instruments used by the Ottoman fire brigades and historical photographs.

Whispers of the Lost Languages
October 14, 2010 – January 30, 2011
Archeological cuneiform script examples showing early writing systems.

Do You Know Hasankeyf?
May 27-September 30, 2010
Photographs about Hasankeyf.

The Centennial Tale of Turkish Painting II
November 19, 2009 – April 30, 2010

European Nostra 2003 Award
European Cultural and Natural Heritage Union Europa Nostra is an independent establishment working to protect the world’s culture heritage. The main building of the Kadir Has University converted from Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory won the 2003 Europe Nostra Award, the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage as the best preserved building for protecting and keeping our historical and cultural heritage alive.