Mother-of-pearl turning into art in female hands

Mother-of-pearl turning into art in female hands

GAZİANTEP - Anatolia News Agency
Mother-of-pearl turning into art in female hands

Most of the products produced by the southeastern women using mother of pearl are sent to Europe. AA photo

A project titled “Maintaining a Hundred Years of Tradition” aims to continue the craft of embossing mother of pearl with the women of Gaziantep. They are currently working on the pearls to learn the works and maintain traditions for the next generations.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Gaziantep Chamber of Coppersmiths and Pearls President Celal Açık said the courses were made with the cooperation of the Professional and Small Industrial Support Association (MEKSA) and the Social Support Program (SODES). “Currently, there are total of 15 women learning the pearl work,” he said.

Noting that embossing mother of pearl has traditionally been done by men, Açık said, “After the three months courses women will also have the opportunity to teach mother of pearl embossing.” The women who learn the techniques will also have the opportunity to sell and earn money from the craft, according to Açık.

“When I said that we would teach this old craft to women, everyone laughed. However, we can see that women are actually better at mother of pearl craft,” said Açık.

“If someone in Turkey says that he or she is a craftsman and does not have a job, it means they will not have a job in the future either. We want people to carry this old craft to the next generations.” said Açık. “Our aim main is to create people who want to learn this craft.”

The new project also aims to create job opportunities for women, he said, adding that the Gaziantep Chamber of Coppersmith and Pearls would support them in every case.

The importance of Craftsmanship

According to Açık, it is very important and vital to keep the tradition of crafts continuing. “Women should take care of these crafts because the future of old crafts is in danger and they need to be taken care of.”

“Some 90 percent of the products that we make are sent to Europe. We are generally selling them in foreign countries,” he said.

The important thing is to allow women to earn some money and have their own job, according to Açık. With this project, women will be able to support themselves, and also maintain the sustainability of handmade crafts of Turkey.

Açık gave examples of the course attendees. “Esra Doğan, who is currently a student in one of the courses, knew nothing about pearl work when she started the course, but she started the course on the recommendation of one of her friends.”

Doğan herself said she had learned the work from the masters, and now she was making the crafts all by herself. “Lots of people do not recognize or know about pearl craftsmanship, but I think everyone can do this job,” she said.

Noting that while learning this, they also support the spread of culture and arts to different places, Doğan said, “We can use these products in our houses.”

Mother of pearl embossing

Embossing mother of pearl has been a tradition in many countries for many years, and it has changed over the centuries. The raw material of the craft is clamshell and wood, and the importance of it is to create motifs. It has been used in architecture and in the decorative arts around frames, mirrors, windows and doors.

In Turkey, embossing mother of pearl is currently done in Gaziantep and exported to the whole world.