24 Aralık 2013 Salı

Traditional Turkish Handicrafts

Turkish handicrafts has formed a rich mosaic by bringing together its genuine values with the cultural heritage of the different civilizations which were coming from the thousand years of history of the Anatolia

Traditional Turkish handicrafts can be listed as;
  • Ceramics and Tiles
  • Metalwork Products
  • Glass Products
  • Leather - Bone - Horn Products
  • Woodwork Products
  • Textile Products
  • Carpets and Kilims
  • Stonework
  • Marbling
  • Calligraphy
  • Illumination and Gilding
  • Miniature Work
  • Turkish Oya Lacework
Turkish Ceramic And Tiles 

The art of Turkish tiles and ceramics which developed in Anatolia reached its highest level of technique and aesthetic especially during the Seljuk and Ottoman periods.

Tiles and Ceramics

The art of ceramics has become a cultural treasure by developing in Anatolia throughout history. Throughout the time from the first ages, with its enhancing motifs and raw material being clay; a mixture of metal, nonmetal and oxide, it has turned into a work of art that reflects societies' sensitivity, cultural accumulation, religious beliefs, relationships and lives within society.

The art of ceramics which developed in Anatolia reached its highest level of technique and aesthetic especially during the Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Other branches of ceramics could be grouped as the art of tile making, brick and roof tile production.

Today, Kutahya has been revived as an important center of tile and ceramic making. In addition, efforts are also being made in private workshops and educational institutions in Iznik, Istanbul, and Bursa to keep the art of traditional Turkish tiles and ceramics alive and develop it so that it can address the demands of modern day life.
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Iznik Tiles and Ceramics

In the 17th century, Iznik became an important tile production centre of the Ottoman Empire. Mostly cintemani, tulip, hyacinth, pomegranate, carnation and hashish motifs were used on tiles. In addition, animals like bird, fish, rabbit and dog, human and ship figures were also frequently used.

The most distinctive characteristic of the 16th century Iznik tiles and ceramics is the red colour added to the blue-white adornment except green, turquoise, and black. The slightly swollen coral red under the frit is the most distinctive element of this ceramic style in the 16th century.

Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics

After Iznik, Kütahya was Ottoman Turkey's most important centre of ceramic production. Industries of Kutahya have long tradition, going back to ancient times. In Kutahya, ceramics with the same motifs as Iznik tiles were produced from the end of the 15th century onwards. Thanks to abundant deposits of clay in the area, ceramics were made here in large quantities in Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times, and the traditional techniques of this art have survived to the present day.

Canakkale Ceramics

From the end of the 17th century to the first decades of the 20th century, Canakkale was the production area of authentic and picturesque formed works of art. The ceramics, made of mostly thick red paste and rarely beige coloured paste, were embellished with green, brown, dirty yellow motifs. Purplish brown, orange, yellow, dark blue and white paints were applied under transparent glaze. Pitchers, vases, cruses, plates, mugs, writing sets, braziers are among the most common ceramic objects as well as spouted, ring shaped, horse topped pitchers, or pitchers with beak mouth.

Turkish Metalwork Products

Metalwork, which has a very important place in our traditional handicrafts, has a long period of improvement. This improvement that starts from central Asia continues with the great Seljuk, Anatolian Seljuk and moves on to the Ottoman empire.

Copper which has a very important place in Anatolian art is a metal suitable for ornamenting. It has been used as apart of daily objects like kitchen utensils, jewelery, and helmets and as part of building like doors and door ornamenting. Copper is the most used metal in metalwork. There are four techniques that are used in making copper utensils; pounding, moulding, turnery and milling. Copper which is currently the most processed metal has a wide span of usage as kitchen utensils with its tinning technique.

Glass Products

Distinguished examples of glasswork left behind by Anatolian civilizations today illuminate the history of glass.
Stained glass in various shapes and forms was developed in the Seljuk period.

After the capture of Constantinople, the city became the center for glasswork during the Ottoman period. Cesm-i Bülbül and Beykoz are two of the techniques from that period that still survive today. Accessories and implements such as oil lamps, tulip vases, sugar bowls, stained glass panels and goblets were made by using these techniques.

The first examples of beads to ward off the evil eye made of glass were produced in the village of Görece in the province of Izmir. Evil eye beads can today be seen in every corner of Anatolia.

It is believed that all living and non-living things can be protected from the evil eye by such beads. It is also believed that these beads serve to divert malicious glances containing the evil eye elsewhere. Amulets to ward off the evil eye are therefore put in places where everyone can easily see them.

Turkish Leather, Bone, Horn Products

It is possible to classify handicrafts that are made of leather, fur, horns and bones according to the materials used and their purpose of usage. Other types of handicrafts that can be added to this category would be; making of handmade authentic leather shoes and rawhide sandals, bookbinding, shadow show puppets, utensils and wool handicrafts.

Turkish Woodwork Products

Having improved in the Anatolian Seljuk period, wood carving has its own unique characteristics and was first meant to cater for needs rather than aesthetics or taste. Wood carving was used in architecture during the Seljuk and Beylic periods and later on during the Ottoman period it was used in both architecture and for daily objects. The trees that are used for woodwork are walnut, apple, pear, cedar, ebony and rosewood and as for ornamenting techniques like inlay, painting, kundekari, embossed carvings and lattice are used.

Textile Products 

Knitting occupies an important place in traditional arts, and is still widely practiced today. Turkish handicrafts have a rich accumulation of thick and thin fabrics made with hooked and knitting needles, hairpins and shuttles with silk, cotton and woolen threads. Tentene, edging embroidery, knot-work (Kastamonu knot-work), and beaded cloth bags are examples of thin knitting, thick knitting is divided into two categories; handmade or shuttle-made. Knitting is done by holding the thread with loop knots with the help of the needle. Thick fabrics are used for wool or cotton socks, gloves or knee pads. Knitting needles began to be made in the 19th century.

Carpets and Kilims

The Turks are nomadic in origin and weaving carpets and kilims which would furnish their tents has been an important part of the culture for thousands of years. Traditionally a craft learnt by women, each carpet would be unique, its variations reflecting both the character of the maker and the place she was from. Thus each region of Turkey has evolved a style of carpet pattern and colours.

Today chemical dyes are more common and carpets may be made from wool, silk and cotton. The density of the knots determines the quality of the carpet the more knots per cm, the more hard wearing it will be.

If you decide to purchase a carpet, most sales merchants will be happy to spend some time explaining the history and meaning of the many symbols in the weave often over a glass of apple tea. In recent years, a number of carpet schools have opened where traditional arts and processes are preserved and the process of carpet making is shown to visitors.

Handmade Carpets and Kilims

Turkish carpets and kilims are in the most valuable collections of museums and collectors in the world. Today, world museums exhibit the carpets woven in Anatolia as their most important and valuable works of art, beginning from the Seljuk period and continuing with the Ottoman Empire.

Anatolian carpets and kilims with their lively colors, motifs, patterns and superior quality have a universal reputation. Natural dyes are used,, where many families have kept their knowledge of which leaves, flowers, roots and vegetables would yield the most radiant colors.

Also Turkish carpets is highly esteemed, possession of a Turkish carpet is regarded as a status symbol in the world.

Various Well Known Anatolian Rugs
  • Silk on Silk
  • Wool on Cotton
  • Wool on Wool
  • Viscose on Cotton
  • Kilims
  • Tulu

The Major Motifs of Turkish Carpet and Kilims

Amulet and evil eye, bird, burdock, chest, cross and hook, dragon, eagle, earrings, eye, fertility, fetter, hand, finger and comb, hands on hips, hair band, ram's horn, running water, scorpion, star, tree of life, wolf's mouth, wolf's track and monster's feet.

Turkish Stonework Products

Stones which have an important place in human life have served mankind in various ways since the beginning of history. The entrance of stone into Turkish handicraft started with the arrival of Turks to Anatolia. Decorative stonework covers a large area in Turkish ornamenting and has protected its place even though changes have occurred depending on the period it was used in. The most common motifs of stonework are; geometric plaits, inlaid work, plant figures, low high embossed animal figures and palmets.


The art of marbling on paper, or ebru in Turkish, is a traditional decorative form employing special methods. The word ebru comes from the Persian word ebr, meaning cloud. The word ebri then evolved from this, assuming the meaning like a cloud or cloudy, and was assimilated into Turkish in the form ebru. Marbling does actually give the impression of clouds. Another possible derivation of the word ebru is from the Persian ab-ruy, meaning face water.

Although it is not known when and in which country the art of marbling was born, there is no doubt that it is a decorative art peculiar to Eastern countries. A number of Persian sources report that it first emerged in India. It was carried from India to Persia, and from there to the Ottomans. According to other sources, the art of marbling was born in the city of Bukhara in Turkestan, finding its way to the Ottomans by way of Persia. In the West, ebru is known as Turkish paper.


Turkish calligraphy is a unique artistic creation although calligraphy itself is not of Turkish origin. Ottomans adopted it with religious fervor and inspiration, taking this art to its pinacle over a five hundred year period.

Ottoman Turkish calligraphy is associated with abstract arabesque motifs on the walls and ceilings of mosques as well as on the page. Contemporary artists in the Islamic world draw on the heritage of calligraphy to use calligraphic inscriptions or abstractions in their work.

Illumination and Gilding

Known as tezhip in Turkish, this is an old decorative art. The word tezhip means turning gold or covering with gold leaf in Arabic. Yet tezhip can be done with paint as well as with gold leaf. It was mostly employed in handwritten books and on the edges of calligraphic texts.

The art of illumination has been practiced as widely in the West as it has in the East. In the Middle Ages in particularly it was widely used to decorate Christian religious texts and prayer books. Gradually however, picture illustrations became more popular, and illumination became restricted to decorating the capital letters in main headings.

Miniature Work

This is the name given to the art of producing very finely detailed, small paintings. In Europe in the Middle Ages, handwritten manuscripts would be decorated by painting capital letters red. Lead oxide, known as minium in Latin and which gave a particularly pleasant colour, was used for this purpose. That is where the word miniature derives from. In Turkey, the art of miniature painting used to be called nakis or tasvir, with the former being more commonly employed. The artist was known as a nakkas or musavvir. Miniature work was generally applied to paper, ivory and similar materials.

Turkish Oya Lacework 

Oya edging, which appears all over Anatolia in various forms and motifs, has different names depending on the means employed: needle, crochet hook, shuttle, hairpin, bead, tassel to name just a few. Sewing needle oya is a variety that was produced by affluent, aristocratic, urban women. The most beautiful examples of such oya, which are usually made with a sewing needle using silk thread.

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