A heart beating for evil eye beads
Mahmut Sür, who has been making evil eye beads for 43 years in his atelier in Nazarköy in İzmir’s Kemalpaşa district, is on the UNESCO List as a Living Human Treasure List (LHT). This title is given to people who possess a very high degree of knowledge and skills required for performing or re-creating specific elements of the intangible cultural heritage.
Sür, 56, is one of the most important evil eye bead producers in Turkey. He began working in the atelier after finishing primary school and continued working there for some time after his military service. Then, he started working for a glass factory to improve his art. As he earned wide knowledge about the art of glass, Sür opened his own atelier. He has been shaping glass for 43 years and is still called “curly Mahmut” due to his curly hair in childhood.
Despite his advancing age, Sür still has a great passion for his profession. Every morning at 5 a.m., he opens his workshop named “Kıvırcık,” located 50 meters away from his house.
After spending some time there with his dog Çakıl, Sür empties the ash in the furnace. Then he re-burns the furnace and organizes the sales counter where his handmade products are displayed.
As the day goes on, other beadmakers accompany Sür in the atelier after having breakfast together.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Sür said there was great interest in the evil eye bead when he first opened his atelier. He said he increased the number of evil eye beads from two to 12 and used the icing technique in his atelier, which he had learned in the factory.
He said the bead entered the market as jewelry thanks to this technique and that he was the winner at a festival in his village.
Sür said he loved glass very much and would train new beadmakers in a new project.
“I will train 20 beadmakers with this project. The evil eye bead is a culture of 3,000 years, I am trying to keep it alive. There is a secret eye in the glass and if you like, you look for this eye. The new generation does not like difficulty and heat. In my apprenticeship, 10-15 people were trained every year, but now, we hardly find one or two people. Turkey is rich in handcrafts; we need to help the variety survive,” Sür said.
He said they have recently begun having financial difficulties, adding that factories used to sell broken glass to them in the past, but now they are used in recycling.
The beadmaker said he wanted some of his works to be displayed in a museum.