Porters carry Istanbul’s trade traditions on their backs

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A few blocks from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, porters wait for their turn in a dark alley to heave huge bales on their backs. Hundreds of men gather at dawn in the ancient heart of Turkey’s commercial capital to carry goods to local shops before sunrise, extending a tradition of manual labour that stretches back to Ottoman times. “We carry up to 150 kilos, the old ones used to carry 200-kilo boxes upstairs,” says porter Mehmet Toktas.



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