The Art Of Embroıdery

The Turkish art of embroidery is unquestionably as old as the history of the Turks themselves. The Turks placed importance on the decoration of the objects which they wore or used. The art of embroidery developed over the centuries and spread through the Balkans, also influencing these regions for many years.

Embroidery is usually applied to fabrics such as cloth, linen, silk, satin, velvet and broadcloth, or to leather, using various types of coloured silk and threads or gold and silver gilt thread. The fabric would be stretched over equipment such as an embroidery frame or embroiderer’s hoop.

There were also artists working at the bazaars using special techniques and equipment. There were also gold or silver wire drawers, silk manufacturers preparing material for embroidery (such as gold or silver gilt thread, cotton or silk cord or silk thread), stampers of ornamental designs, and cardboard cutters for gold and silver thread embroidery over cardboard artists who had a different knowledge and expertise.

Men and women’s clothes embroidered or worked with gold or silver thread were heavy dresses worn only for important ceremonies like engagements, weddings or a woman’s ”henna night” before the wedding day. For daily use, dresses embroidered only with cotton or silk cords were worn.

Embroideries are either single or double-faced according to the technique used. They are divided into groups with various names according to the needle type and embroidery style, such as hesap işi, gözeme, kesme, muşabak, süzeni (made with a knitting needle on an embroidery frame), susma, pesent, sarma, balık kılçığı, balık sırtı, hasır iğnesi, mürver iğne, civan kaşı, ciğer deldi, çin iğnesi, iğne ardı, antep işi, kasnak işi, aplike, dival işleri, anavata, sırma and kaytan işleri.

The embroidery is applied to a variety of objects: fine cotton material embroidered with yellow silk, soft felt caps, prayer rugs, shoes, head scarves, square shawls, stout jackets with slit sleeves, robes, handkerchiefs, veils, saddle sets, dresses, gowns, turban clothes, tobacco pouches (pouches for money, watches, and seals), as well as pattens, table mats, oven cloths, long mats, slippers, shaving sets, waist strings and bedding sets. The motifs used in Turkish embroidery are richer than those used for other handicrafts and they vary according to region.

 The main motifs are as follows: geometric designs, highly stylized animal figures, floral motifs (tulip, clove, hyacinth, rose, violet, cypress tree), fruits (grape, pomegranate, pear, apricot, watermelon, peach), houses, tents, boats and nature motifs such as mountains and hills.

All of these embroidered motifs are stylized and the larger motifs are filled with smaller motifs. The proportion of the motifs is not taken into consideration. The main colours are red, green and blue.

Only two ends of handkerchiefs, towels and the waist strings are embroidered. A characteristic of Turkish embroidery is a running pattern at the edges of the embroidered pieces. When these running patterns are broad, they form the main ornamentation and are densely embroidered.

The running patterns are embroidered horizontally, vertically and diagonally, and form the background for the main motif. In the Turkish art of ornamentation an empty background always follows a densely embroidered surface to relax the eye.

Turkish artists used colours boldly, and often made picturesque artifacts using soft and pale colours. The colours of 16th century embroidery are few and harmonious; the designs are usually stylized flowers in accordance with the fashion of the period.

Leaf, pine cone and pomegranate motifs are also frequently seen. Floral and other motifs can be used singly, in addition to the flowers grouped as bouquets. The main colours are red, green and blue.

In the 17th century, embroideries imitating textile designs were popular. In this century, in addition to the use of other motifs, a clover motif often covered the whole surface like a textile design, giving the impression of a fan. Rich colours were preferred.

Many more examples of embroidery survive from the 18th and 19th centuries. Characteristic of the period are unstylized flowers and the use of many colours on a single piece.

The Turks began to process leather in the pre-Islamic period. As they were nomadic riders, and had the spirit of artists, it is certain that they made their tents, horse harnesses, and boots with high quality leather. Appliqué and mosaic, stamping, and silver or coloured silk threads and yarns were used for embroidering leather.

Silver and hybrid threads were frequently used in the embroidery of later periods. Forms and ornamental motifs are rougher than earlier examples. Numerous examples from later periods survive today.

Crochet-work is another skill that can be included within the art of embroidery, and needlepoint in particular has an important place within this group. The fabric used for the needlework is silk. It is embroidered by knotting around small needles. The motifs of crochet-work vary according to region. Hair, weft and thin wire are used to keep the work straight. After the knitting is completed, gum tragacanth or egg white is applied.

The motifs of pinking can be grouped as follows:

1. Plants

2. Panoramas

3. Living beings

4. Geometric designs and objects

5. Symbolic motifs

Each group contains many motifs with various names.The colours and motifs of the embroideries vary from region to region. They fully reflect the taste, feelings and thoughts of the embroiderer.


This is a wooden frame over which the textile to be embroidered is stretched. It stands on four feet. The feet and the frame can be dismantled. There are numerous holes around the embroidery frame, to which the threads of the embroidery frame cloth, which is called margin cloth, are fixed. The cloth to be embroidered is sewn to the embroidery frame cloth along its edges and is stretched by pulling these threads.

The embroiderer holds the right hand over and left hand under the textile, the embroiders by sticking the needle downwards from above and upwards from below.


The Turks, with their love of bathing and cleanliness from ancient times, built baths that have an important place in the daily life of the nation in every city and every town of Anatolia.

The bath also has an important place in our culture. For this reason, some objects are made specifically for use in baths; for example, towels, pattens, waist-cloths, bath bowls, clay pouches, and scrubbing-gloves.In addition, many ancient traditions, related to the bath, still continue today.

Young girls of marriageable age first would be seen and approved of while bathing a young man’s family; if both families were agreeable, the marriage arrangements would begin.

The bride’s bath is another of our traditions continuing today. Every young girl and young man is obliged to the bath before the wedding. Accompanied by a ceremony, entertainment, and traditional folk songs, the young people make their preparations for marriage.

Also, Turkish folklore is full of bath culture. The bath and bathing tradition, are mentioned in many folk songs, proverbs and poems.