ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
The ‘Woman of the Year’ Award was presented to 90-year-old Nasra Çilli by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Emine Erdoğan in Mardin on March 8. DHA photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has granted the “Woman of the Year Award” to a 90-year-old Syriac Christian woman in the southeastern province of Mardin, marking the first such occasion a minority woman has received the prize.
“I call on our people to compromise a bit [in the name of] living together. True love only comes about through sharing something,” Nasra Şimmes-Hindi, also known as “Nasra Çilli” in her native Mardin, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Şimmes-Hindi makes her living from the traditional art of weaving, a craft she is the sole remaining artesan of in the city. She depicts the portraits of saints, primarily those of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, on callisco fabric over wooden molds, employing a technique that has been around for centuries. Inherited from her father
“I [create] my works by using rubia and with brushes and molds I inherited from my father,” Şimmes-Hindi said, adding she was inspired by stories from the Old and New Testaments. “I never received a formal school education.”
Şimmes-Hindi also expressed her conviction that ongoing problems in Turkey would eventually be resolved through mutual respect and love.
Her works are on display in many churches throughout the world, primarily in Israel
and the United States but also in Belgium, Canada, Sweden and Germany. She has five children who have immigrated to different countries, following in the wake of many other Syriac Christians.
Şimmes-Hindi also expressed deep regret at being unable to find anyone to pass her art on to.
Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan, and Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin gave the two remaining awards to Sevim Ademan, a small restaurant operator, and Aynur Demirken, who launched her own business by utilizing microcredit loans.