A Passion To Collect


How did your passion for collecting get started?
I am a lawyer by profession. Law is a field that requires a lot of energy and running around. I pursued my career actively in my youth, but I also started to get interested in archaeology and art history as a relaxing hobby. In time, my curiosity and desire to discover things increased. Finally, I gave up my career, and in the last five years I’ve concentrated exclusively on collecting.

What is the theme of your collection?
When I put together a collection, I choose areas not previously worked on, items that have not yet been brought together. In creating a collection I don’t buy anything I would not consider publishing. I also intend to publish, and thereby promote, my finds because the unique culture of Anatolia is not widely known in the world.

What sort of objects and artifacts do you include in your collections?
First of all, whatever period a work is from, it must be of Anatolian origin and hitherto unpublished, and it must contribute to the whole like putting together the pieces in a puzzle. Every collection group is a single great work for me. Very significant as well as very ordinary pieces are needed to arrive at the big picture.  I think designating a specific theme and concentrating on those areas is the better approach. Another important part of collecting is feeling the necessity to publish as the collection nears completion.

What do you look for when selecting an artifact?
When purchasing objects I aim more to publish and share with researchers than to exhibit. That’s why I also share my collections with researchers in a specialized museum.  I also try to publish my collections as books as best I can. Up to now I have distributed my books free of charge to various institutions and interested parties.

What sort of publications are they?
I place importance on publishing my collection areas as books and sharing them with the public when they reach a certain maturity. It is my principle not to publish in areas that have been worked on before, or to re-publish a work that has already been published. I think that the four books of coins I published together with researcher Hüsnü Öztürk made a significant contribution to our history. Similarly, publications like my Healing Stones, Ottoman Talismans, The Red Crescent Society, Ancient Medical Instruments, and Diplomas in the History of Turkish Education shed light on our culture through collections I have created entirely on my own.

Is there any collection of yours you feel is complete?
Collecting is a living hobby in which continuous renewal is possible. It’s impossible to bring any collection to an end. Nevertheless, I have collections that have achieved a significant degree of maturity over time.  My collections of weights, medical instruments and seals in particular are considered world class and cover every period of Anatolia. At the same time, there are also groups in which I’ve focused on a particular person or period, like the Süleymaniye bronzes, and the calligraphy of Halim Özyazıcı.

What do you aim for when creating a collection in a specific area?
My primary purpose is to bring together the concrete manifestations of the cultural geography to which we belong and to promote them through publications and museums. Several thematic collection groups I have today are extremely rich, and perhaps the only collections in their respective fields. In my history of education collection, for example, I ensured comprehensiveness and integral diversity by including everything from Hittite cuneiform tablets and Ottoman lecterns to Republican period blackboards.

What is the significance of the Süleymaniye bronzes?
The Süleymaniye bronzes are objects unique to Istanbul. Just as Venice is known for its Murano glass, Iznik for its tiles and Kütahya for its porcelain, Istanbul should also be promoted through the household bronze objects that were produced at Süleymaniye starting in  the Ottoman period. I intend to promote these unique Istanbul products, which stand on the brink of oblivion today, through a collection of hundreds of different bronze objects from braziers, coffeepots and finials to candlesticks, censers and rose water flasks. Opening a museum for these artifacts, known as Istanbul work in the common parlance, will be more effective than the tulip in promoting Istanbul’s cultural treasures.

One of Haluk Perk’s collections consists of works by calligrapher Mustafa Halim Özyazıcı. There are literally thousands of examples of calligraphic writing and sketches by this famous calligrapher in the collection.

“Museums extremely rich in content could be created from every single group in my collection. Since the worldwide concept of thematic museology is not yet developed in Turkey, I believe that museums promoting Anatolian culture can be opened by various institutions working together in concert.”