Turkey, especially Istanbul is shoppers’ heaven especially for those who are interested in true Turkish culture and seeking opportunity to interact with the local merchants. In this brief article we gathered together the fine examples cultural Turkish handcrafts.
CARPETS AND KILIMS
Carpets and kilims have been part of Turkish culture since their nomadic times for thousand years before they settled in Anatolia. Turks used to live in tents and yurts before moving into houses, carpets and kilims were their new floor on earth. It was the carpets and kilims made them feel at home, not the wild.
Turkish carpets and kilims are not just decorative elements for our houses but they are veryfine works of art. Carpets and kilims have a wide range of symbols through which for many centuries, Anatolian women expressed their feelings with the motifs which vary from region to region. The value of Turkish carpets and kilims is hidden in the knots. They are weaved with “double knotting” technique which distinguish them from Persian, Afghan, Indian and Moroccan carpets which are weaved with single knotting technique.
Take a tour to a carpet production center to have a firsthand learning experience of this art and explore a great range of designs.
Jewellery has been an accessority of humankind since thousands years. It found body with the most rare and precious metals and stones on earth such as gold, diamond, emerald, silver and many other precious stones. Jewelry is not just an accessority but piece of art when shaped with an artist’s hands.
Istanbul, is a true paradise for jewellery shopping, offering amazing varieties from antiques to museum quality Ottoman pieces, Byzantine and Roman designs, diamonds, traditional gold, emeralds, silvers to many other precious stones.
Today many tourists prefer shopping in Turkey due its marvelous craftsmanship and great value prices.
TILES & CERAMICS
Turkey has been famous for colored tile-work since the 16th century. Iznik (southeast of Istanbul, a town of Bursa province) was the largest production center during the Ottoman period and the ateliers of Iznik produced many precious tiles for Ottoman buildings such as palaces and mosques and tombs of sultans. Iznik tiles were different than Seljuk tiles in colour and quality. By the 18th century the ceramic industry in Iznik died out completely and the classic Iznik pieces are now classified as antiquities and may not be exported. But the province of Kutahya (western Anatolia) replaced Iznik as the leading centre of ceramic works. Today masters of pottery in Kutahya are still making excellent plates, bowls, cups, tiles and other items in the traditional way.
Calligraphy with its Greek origins mean “beautiful writing” and it is an art of fine handwriting. Calligraphy can be applied to letters, words, pages and even to whole documents. Today Turkish calligraphy uses Latin alphabet in traditional forms of decorative curves and is a valuable and an interesting piece of souvenir.
PAPER MARBLING (EBRU)
Paper marbling known as “Ebru” in Turkish, is a method of aqueous surface design, which can produce patterns similar to smooth marble or other stone. The patterns are the result of color floated on either plain water or a viscous solution known as size, and then carefully transferred to an absorbent surface, such as paper or fabric. Through several centuries, people have applied marbled materials to a variety of surfaces. It is often employed as a writing surface for calligraphy, and especially book covers and endpapers in bookbinding and stationery.
BRASS AND COPPERWARE
Brass and copper bowl, plates, cups, trays, cooking pots and utensils were common household items during the Ottoman times. There four types of decoration methods applied to copper; wrought, casting, plating and pressing. Copperware are great decorative pieces, but if you intend to use as kitchen utensils make sure it is tinned inside.
Meerschaum (is a German word means “The Foam of the Ocean“) is a special kind of stone mined at depths of 450 feet in central Anatolia. Meerschaum was first discovered in Central Anatolia about 300 years ago. It is found in very few other countries of world. It is variously called “Meerschaum”, “Venus of the Sea”, “Magnesite” and “Sepiclite”. Chemically it is a hydrous natural magnesium silicate. When freshly mined, it is as soft as soap and due its soft nature can be carved easily. As its water content reduces it becomes hard. It is used in making ornaments and pipes because of this special quality. One reason for the manufacture and high demand of meerschaum pipes is that due to its porosity it absorbs nicotine. As a result of experiments, it was found that it acts a natural filter and absorbs 70% of the nicotine.
Therefore it is more healthy to smoke a meerschaum pipe than any other pipe. This absorbtion may be seen on meerschaum pipes which in time and by use, loose their original transculent ivory white colour and change first into yellow and then to light walnut brown. This change in color is of course applicable for smokers’ items only. Non smokers items like ornaments, candle holders, chess sets which are not subject to the nicotine will keep their original ivory white color for years.