Among the foreign participants, that of Ottoman industrialists, merchants and artists could not fail to be of particular interest.
It seems that the directors, headed by Mr. Georges Vaxelaire, the most active, ingenious and devoted general commissioner, had understood that the attention of visitors would inevitably be drawn to a country whose profound transformations and radical regeneration have recently been recorded in European history and politics.
It was in front of a monumental portico that the Turkish bazaars displayed their rich merchandise, that in stalls where trinkets were piled up and fabrics piled up, the natives with swarthy faces, with jet hair escaping from the immutable fez, solicited with their greasy talk the visitors who were quickly seduced by their familiar jibes.
The same counter offered silk babouches cabochoned with multicoloured pearls, glassware and filigree jewellery, vases of curiously embossed copper, damascened blades and light fabrics, embroidered silks, thick wools, heavy with intricate soutaches.
Next to the gold-covered mules, you could see the rose essence from the youlouks near the palace of Yldiz trembling in long thin vials. The same merchant sold you furniture of dark wood, all inlaid with mother-of-pearl, Anatolian carpets or trinkets, among which the sterilised beetle, mounted as a pin head, a brooch body, a button plate, is an abundant speciality.
As the Sultan's empire borders on that of the Shah on the world map, the Ottoman Section was next to the Persian in the halls of the Exhibition. For once, the paradoxical geographical imbroglio that was this meeting of nations did not provide any inconsistent contrast. It seemed that the merchants of Stamboul were continuing the trade of those of Isfahan. Here, as there, the carpet was the master of the market. They were everywhere. They covered the partitions, were piled up, rolled in the corners, piled up on the shelves, spread out on trestles, stretched out on furniture, draped on sofas, and everywhere the feet sank pleasantly into their wool or their deep silks.
Finally, there were the appetizing sweets: pastilles soaked in perfumed essences, brown, pink or white nougat stuffed with almonds, soft pasta rolled in sugar crystals, lemonades of all colours, hot coffee served in tiny cups, and the national Turkish delight that melts in the mouth and seems to the palate like honey, whose dullness would be softened by a raspberry or lemon juice.
And over all these bazaars, over these stalls, at the top and at the corners of the portico, floated the red standard of the sultans which, from Baghdad to Salonika, is the sign today of the happy resurrection of a power and a prestige long threatened.
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Bruxelles 1910