I love this place!
Why, you ask? It is because of the people.
Their stories are amazing.
Take Ömürlü Bayram for instance. His father, İbrahim had four sons. They all died in child birth or shortly thereafter. He then had five girls. Then came Ömürlü. His given name was İhsan but they quickly nick-named him Ömürlü, or long-lived. For Ömürlü was to carry on the Bayram family name and the family business.
Ibrahim was a potter here in Avanos in the sixties. That was before the tourism industry came to Avanos. A time before pottery became something you hung on your wall as a souvenir. A time when what was thrown on the wheel was put to use in the home.
İbrahim was well known for his ceramic cups and baking pots. But his specialty was giant wine jars. And as his great nephew, Gökhan Erdoğan, showed me an existing jar Ibrahim had made, it reminded me of a story in the New Testament where Jesus turned water into wine. I pictured the wine being in jars that looked very much like the jar in front of me…some things never change.
Ömürlü took an interest in his father’s work at a young age. In 1976, at 13 years old, he started working with his father who had moved from the industrial center of Avanos into the downtown area. Ömürlü remembers working there with both his mother and father.
There Ömürlü became a master potter in his father’s footsteps. In 1986 the business had grown to where they bought another shop downtown. In 1998 they had grown so much they moved into the present location which boasted a room to demonstrate pottery making, a showroom, and a storage room.
But unfortunately, İbrahim was not able to witness his son’s current success. He died before he saw Ömürlü Çömlekçi grow to the 3 demonstration room, five showroom, 20 tour-bus-a-day operation that it is today. Ömürlü now employs over 30 people, half of whom are relatives, including Gökan.
Gökhan is a salesperson at Ömürlü Çömlekçi. While he may only be a “nephew-in-law” to Ömürlü it is clear that ceramic work is in his blood. Gökan, having been born and raised in Avanos, knows the history of pottery in this region dating back to the Hittites. He is very comfortable talking to English speakers about intricacies of the ceramic art produced at Ömürlü, and its importance in life in Avanos today.
Since his childhood, when he worked with his father at his uncle’s restaurant in neighboring Göreme, Gökhan has been in tourism. He studied tourism at university and received his Culture and Tourism Ministry tour guide certification in 2010 after completing his degree. As he played guide for me around the grounds of Ömürlü Çömlekçi, I could see that he was gifted in cross-cultural relationship building. A gift I am sure he developed in his travel overseas.
In 2010, in order to improve his English before taking the tour guide exam, Gökhan visited America. I had to laugh when he said that he went to develop his English but ended up learning Spanish. He worked in a factory as part of the “Work and Travel” program where he cut the wings off 7500 turkeys a day! Many of the workers were from Mexico and Puerto Rico so Gökhan spoke mostly Spanish during work hours. This now comes in handy as he is the only salesman at Ömürlü Çömlekçi who can communicate with the Spanish speaking tourists!
As the saying goes, “like father, like son.” Ömürlü has four girls and one son. Ömürlü named his son İbrahim, out of respect and remembrance of his father.
Maybe one day they will call the nine-year old İbrahim, “Ömürlü”, as he carries on the Bayram family name… and the family business.
CONTACT INFORMATION & DIRECTIONS:
As you come into Avanos from Göreme, pass the MOil station, make a left at the next traffic circle with the Jandarma on the left and Kapadokya Anaokul on the right.
Go over the bridge and stay straight (don’t turn left or right after the bridge).
Proceed another 500 meters and Ömürlü Ceramik is on the right hand side as you start up the hill.
2. Caddesi Sok. 26
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Ömürlü Ceramics – Avanos, Cappadocia
I love this place!
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