Traditional Arts and Crafts
have been around since man’s earliest days in accordance with the prevailing
environmental conditions. The first examples were necessities such as protection
or coverings. Handicrafts were later improved and adapted according to
environmental conditions, eventually becoming "traditional" and accepted as an
art that reflects the artistic sense, feelings and cultural characteristics of a
Traditional Turkish handicrafts form a rich mosaic by bringing together
genuine values with the cultural heritage of the different civilizations which
have passed through Anatolia over the millennia.
Traditional Turkish handicrafts include; carpet-making, rug-making, sumac,
cloth-weaving, writing, tile-making, ceramics and pottery, embroidery, leather
manufacture, musical instrument-making, masonry, copper work, basket-making,
saddle-making, felt-making, weaving, woodwork, cart-making etc.
Weaving materials in traditional Turkish handicrafts consist of wool, mohair,
cotton, bristles and silk.
can be done with all kinds of cloth, and produces plaits, carpets, rugs and felt
obtained by spinning thread, connecting the fibers together or by other methods.
Weaving is a handicraft which has been practiced in Anatolia for many years
and considered as a mean of earning a livelihood.
Embroidery, a unique example of Turkish handicrafts, is not only used for
decoration but also as a means of communication tool with the symbolism in its
designs. Today, embroidery made with tools such as the crochet needle, needle,
shuttle and hairpin designed either as a border or motif, and goes by different
names according to the implement used and the technique. These include; needle,
crochet needle, shuttle, hairpin, silk cocoon, wool, candle stick, bead and
left-over cloth. Embroidery is generally seen in the provinces of Kastamonu,
Konya, Elazığ, Bursa, Bitlis, Gaziantep, İzmir, Ankara, Bolu, Kahramanmaraş,
Aydın, İçel, Tokat and Kütahya, although it is gradually losing importance and
becoming restricted to trousseau chests.
Along with embroidery used in traditional costumes, jewellery is also
commonly used as an accessory. All the civilizations which have existed in
Anatolia have produced artistic works made from precious or semi-precious stones
and metal. Turkoman jewellery is an excellent example of genuine methods that
were brought to Anatolia by the Seljuks. In the Ottoman period, jewellery gained
importance in parallel to the development of the empire.
the Bronze Age in Anatolia, bronze obtained by mixing tin with copper, and
materials such as copper, gold and silver were also wrought and cast. The most
used material is copper. Various techniques, such as casting, scraping,
savaklama, küftgani, ajir kesme and kazima were used. There are also different
techniques for working other materials such as brass, gold, silver, and today
these handicrafts are trying to be kept alive today by using high quality
workmanship and a variety of designs. Copper, the commonest metal used today, is
still used for kitchen utensils by plating it with tin.
Architecture, whose origins lie in a need to provide permanent shelter, has
also changed and adapted in accordance with local environmental conditions. This
development led to wood carving gaining its unique characteristics during the
Seljuk period. Seljuk woodworking crafts include extraordinary, high-quality
workmanship, the commonest products most common being mosque niches, mosque
doors and cupboard covers. In the Ottoman period, these techniques were greatly
simplified and applied mostly to objects in daily use, such as tripods, wooden
stands for quilted turbans, writing sets, drawers, chests, spoons, thrones,
rowing boats, low reading desks, Koran covers and architectural works such as
windows, wardrobe covers, beams, consoles, ceilings, niche indicating the
direction of Mecca, pulpits and coffins.
materials used in woodworking were mostly walnut, apple, pear, cedar, ebony and
rosewood. Wooden objects were created by such techniques such as tapping,
painting, relief-engraving, caging, coating and burning, and these are still
employed today. The use of walking sticks became popular in the 19th century,
and these are still populare and made by the same methods in the provinces of
Zonguldak, Bitlis, Gaziantep, Bursa, İstanbul-Beykoz and Ordu provinces. While
the handles of walking sticks are made of materials such as silver, gold and
bone, the sticks themselves are usually made of rose, cherry, ebony, bamboo and
Making musical instruments has been a tradition for many long years. These
are made from materials such as trees, plants and the skin, bones and horns of
animals, and are classified into string, percussion and woodwind groups.
Another art form is glazed earthenware tiles, which were brought to Anatolia
by the Seljuks. Seljuk artists were especially successful at creating animal
designs. The glazed earthenware tiles initiated in the 14th century in İznik, in
the 15th century in Kütahya and in the 17th century in Çanakkale, made a
posıtıve contributıon and brought new interpretations to Ottoman ceramic and
glazed earthenware tile art. Between the 14 and 19th centuries, Turkish glazed
earthenware tiles and ceramic art became world famous for their extraordinary
The most distinctive examples of the glasswork of Anatolian civilizations
illuminate the development of the history of glass work. Stained glass in
different models and forms was developed by the Seljuks. In the Ottoman Empire,
after the conquest of Istanbul, the city became the glasswork centre. Çeşmi-i
Bülbül and Beykoz work are examples of techniques that still survive today.
first production of glass in the form of a bead to ward of the evil eye was
carried out by expert craftsmen in the village of Görele in the province of
Izmir. It is possible to see beads for warding off the evil eye in every corner
of Anatolia. It is believed that the malicious glances aimed at living things or
objects can be averted by using these amulets. Amulets made of bead to ward off
the evil eye are therefore put in places where everyone can see them easily.
Stonework plays an important role in exterior and interior decoration in
traditional architecture. In addition to architecture, gravestones are other
examples of stonework. Techniques such as carving, relief and inscription are
applied to gravestones. The ornamental motifs used are plants, geometric motifs,
writing and figures. Animal figures are less common. Human figures can be found
in Seljuk period art.
Basket-making is carried out by weaving reed, willow, and nut branches in a
way that has come down from our ancestors. It is now used for home decoration in
addition to its original purpose of helping to carry things.
Packsaddles made of felt and rough cloth formed a sub-branch of traditional
artwork during the period when saddles were commonly used in rural areas.
As a result of changing living conditions, and particularly
industrialisation, the production of these has now pretty much ceased
By order of the Folk Culture Research and Development General Directorate,
area inspections of handicrafts and expert producers are carried out each year.
In these studies, works of art are photographed and recorded for the archives,
which are available for use by scientists, experts and students interested in
order to promote handicrafts, the General Directorate holds exhibitions making
use of this archive both inside and outside Turkey. Again with the support of
the General Directorate, regional handicraft exhibitions are arranged for the
purposes of promotion and to help artists to find markets for their products.
The General Directorate also holds an “International Folk Culture Congress”
once every five years. Papers delivered at this congress and other articles from
scientific meetings on this subject are published by the directorate.
All studies on handicrafts are also published.