Meerschaum with a history of three hundred years keeps a historical secret in Eskisehir. Meerschaum was introduced to the Austrians during the Siege of Vienna by the Jannisaries of the Turkish army. Today we hear the word “white gold” because of the meerschaum.
Why was meerschaum called the “white gold”? There are many formal answers to this question. However, there is a distinct feature which makes it different from other stones. This stone which resembles chalk is much lighter and softer. This feature makes it easy to work on and shape. The white treasure of Eskişehir is soft and easy to work on when mined, but it hardens as a result of exposure to air. Since it’s been found only in Eskisehir, it is also known as “Eskisehir Stone”.
The mineral can be used for many purposes: pipes, mouthpieces, jewellery, pins, saxophones, hookahs, rosaries, stain removal, electric machines, and motor vehicles.
Meerschaum is most widely known for its use in pipe making, where specialists carve and polish the stone to create intricate and collectable tobacco pipes. It is also considered one of the best materials for pipe creation and is widely sought after by smokers who say the materials adds flavor to the tobacco and by collectors who appreciate the beauty and stories behind the carvings.
A meerschaum pipe is a smoking pipe made from the mineral sepiolite, also known as meerschaum. Meerschaum is sometimes found floating on the Black Sea and is rather suggestive of sea foam (hence the German origin of the name, as well as the French name for the same substance, écume de mer).
Meerschaum, the name of which is derived from the German word for sea foam, is known as lületaşı in Turkish, translated literally to “curlstone.”
Not only do meerschaum pipes enhance the smoking experience, but their designs are among the rarest and most striking. Each piece is the embodiment of centuries of history and culture. Each carver have special designs with different meanings behind each. There are different shapes, as well as carvings of faces, objects, and abstract patterns. The pieces are hand carved, allowing clients to request designs and meanings.
Meerschaum pipes, while relatively unknown, are an important part of Turkey’s cultural and artistic offerings. The hand-carved pieces tell a story and and allow both collectors and smokers alike a new way to appreciate history.
Atlıhan Bazaar in Eskişehir’s historic district of Odunpazarı offers fine pieces, as well as Odunpazarı’s Handicraft Center in the Kurşunlu Complex, the Çukur Bazaar in Eskişehir’s city center, and the Tradesmen Palace on İki Eylül Street. The finest ornaments and antiques are also on display inside the Eskişehir Meerschaum Museum of Odunpazarı.