Machko Teahouse Remains Traditional
Drinking tea and sitting in teahouses are traditional sources of comfort for the people of Erbil
There are many teahouses in Erbil city where people go to and drink tea, but Machko has always been the most distinguished. The main factor that has made Machko so recognized amongst Kurdish people, and even foreign tourists, is not only the type of tea and coffee presented, but it is the traditional mode the teahouse has kept from long time ago also.
Machco is regarded as the oldest teahouse in Erbil, opened in 1940 by Majid Ismail. It is now operated by his son, Muhsin Majid. Because Ismail was loved by people he was rather called by Machco, hence the name of the teahouse became Machco as well.
Drinking tea and sitting in teahouses are traditional sources of comfort for the people of Erbil. Teahouses are alternative gathering places for people to spend their leisure time.
Machco, which is known as a teahouse for Kurdish journalists, poets, and authors, has been renovated several times, but the reconstructions has been done within the limits that have kept the traditional style of the teahouse.
A few months ago the teahouse made some changes. The tables and chairs have been replaced. The walls have been decorated with traditional ornaments and wall rugs. Now the teahouse is different but in the sense that it looks more traditional than it used to be.
Majid who is currently run the teahouse, said “I chose the oldest design, among many, for chairs and tables. I took the design to a famous carpenter in Erbil to make something suitable for the teahouse. The set came out really fantastic,”
Next to Machko, there are a series of shops selling traditional rugs. One of the shop owners, one day, gave Muhsin two rugs as a gift to hang on the wall. Muhsin said “I found it would be nice if I put more traditional rugs on the walls especially in the outdoor section of the teahouse; so I did.”
Machko is divided in to four sections: the first section located outside where most of the elderly people gather. The first two sections inside are occupied by artists, journalists, and poets. The youngsters and students usually sit at the back section to play table games just for fun.
There are small libraries inside the teahouse for those who like to read books while drinking. One of the libraries was awarded to the teahouse by a former KRG Minister, Shawkat Sheikh Yazdeen. After Yazdeen was assassinated by terrorists, his brother gave Yazdeen’s second library to the teahouse.
The authors and poets usually keep a few copies of their products in the teahouse’s libraries for those who like reading.
Beside the rugs, the walls are also decorated with famous Kurdish singers and poets. Another traditional mode of the teahouse is the traditional music played to the clients. The songs of Mishko, Mohammed Mamle, Rasul Gardi, Mazhar Khaliqi, Hassan Zirak, Fuad Ahmad, and other traditional singers are mostly played for amusing the clients.
Majid stated that his father loved cultured people. "Various Kurdish singers and authors such as Hassan Sisawai, Kawes Agha, and Ibrahim Barzenji have visited and have drunk tea here; since then, most of the people who come here are newly arrived authors and journalists."
Unlike the other teahouses, Macko is open from 8:00 PM till 1:00 in the morning. Machko is the only traditional teahouse in Erbil where ladies, though little in number, go to.
This picture depicts Aphrodite Handball Team.