My neighbour next door mentioned that there is a room in her house that belongs to her landlord and in that room there happens to be an old chest which has been abandoned for a long time. After the owner of the house passed away her heirs emptied the room leaving the chest to my neighbour. She asked me if I would like to sneak a peek? Inside the chest along with some valueless jewellery, knick-knacks, clippings and novels, there were numerous letters and photographs. From the novel of Fatih Harbiye of the writer Peyami Safa, a letter slipped out. Even though it was unsigned I realised that it may be written by Peyami Safa himself. The introduction was simple greetings but the plot was getting to an interesting point. Safa, if he was the writer of the letter, told that he has written her story in Fatih Harbiye but changed the end for the sake of the readers (because no-one could be as talented as Neriman Hanım). It is understood that the writer of the letter admired her deeply.
To satisfy my interest I started to read the novel and saw that it was the story of same lady in the photos. Just like the character in the novel there were photos of her playing oud. In the photos from 1920’s she was wearing a black scarf as of the fashion trend of the day and as it turned to the 1930’s there was a significant change of her outfits. One of the clippings was clipped from an issue of Cumhuriyet dated 1931 and it was about Neriman Hanım participating a beauty contest and the photos of her published with her nicknamed as N.Hanım as of the rules of the contest. Below are some examples of the documents and photos I found in chest of Neriman Hanım. I keep on researching about her and what she has been through. Up to now I found out that she lived in Paris between the two World Wars and made friends amongst the Surrealists of the day. And also I learned that for a while she acted in some of the plays of Darulbedayi and took part in movies at the time.
Sunday 11, January (Kanunisani) 1931 dated newspaper. We see her pitcure printed in the newspaper as a beauty contest candidate. At the time Cumhuriyet newspaper promoted the contest and printed picture of one candidate every day. Actually the newspaper was the organiser of the contest. And for candidates there were two photo studio in Beyoğlu to go and have some pitcure to join the contest freely: Süreya and Femina. Newspaper was paying the prices to studios for candidates. Also beauty contest despite all the contradictions was a way of showing the world the modernity of new Turkish Republic.
Photo album of Neriman Hanım. This was in the chest. It consists pitcures of her and her friends who were the part of bohemian and entellectual comminity of Beyoğlu at the time.
Some images from her photo album. On the left pitcure, we see her while posing in the studio. On the right, she is with her very close friend painter Dürnev Hanım.