Machko Tea­house Re­mains Tra­di­tional

Drink­ing tea and sit­ting in tea­houses are tra­di­tional sources of com­fort for the peo­ple of Er­bil

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Zakaria Muhammed

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.

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