The hamam towel

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Canadian Jennifer Gaudet, founder of Jennifer’s Hamam in Istanbul’s Arasta Bazaar, is a passionate defender of Turkey’s vanishing textiles tradition. Thankfully her mission has been boosted by the global popularity of the hamam towel or pestemal – a compact and lightweight towel that’s highly absorbent and dries five times quicker than regular towels. “The hamam towel is something very special in Turkish culture,” she says, “because the hamam is very special. It wasn’t just a bathhouse, it was a communal meeting place. Visiting the hamam was a daily ritual. Over the centuries, Turkish women took this functional item – the towel – and transformed it into a thing of beauty.” Istanbul now boasts hundreds of stores selling a vast array of towels. And with pastels gracing catwalks this season, pestemals like those pictured (from Ailera) are sure to go down a storm. Best of all, when you’re not on holiday, they have a variety of other uses. “People use them as tablecloths, throws, curtains, scarves or shawls,” says Gaudet. “The only limit is the owner’s inspiration and imagination.”;