FOR 600 YEARS
In Turkey, a Display of a Coffee Ritual
The permanent collections of European museums can often feel ignored and stale, but the Pera Museum in the Beyoglu district in Istanbul has dusted off its Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection, repurposing the display to tell the history and rituals of Turkish coffee as its popularity spread from wealthy households to the general public.
The exhibition focuses on the types of colorful ceramic coffee pots, sugar bowls and other accessories produced as early as the 17th century by the Ottoman-era masters in Kutahya, the second most important Turkish center for the craft after Iznik.
But the small and charming display goes beyond the floral motifs of turquoise-and red-glazed cups, ewers and saucers to show the importance of public spaces like local coffee houses as an early form of social media.
As they spread from cities like Mecca, Cairo and Damascus to Istanbul in the middle of the 16th century, such ‘‘kahvehanes’’ reshaped the concepts of personal space and social roles, the exhibition curators say.
The coffee houses were an alternative, mostly for men, to what the show’s organizers called ‘‘the triangle of home, market and mosque.’’
Entrance to the Pera and the exhibition “Coffee Break: The Adventure of Coffee in Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics” is 15 lira, or $6.70, or free on Fridays from 6 to 10 p.m.