Museum breathes life into old craftsmanship

Museum breathes life into old craftsmanship

TOKAT - Anadolu Agency
Museum breathes life into old craftsmanship

‘There is a collective memory of this city and our job is to keep this culture alive, says Erbaa mayor Ahmet Yenihan. AA photos

Recently opened museum in the Black Sea province’s Tokat municipality seeks to put professions that have been said to be destined to be forgotten under the spotlight, remembering the individuals who worked in such professions. In this regard, artisans, for the most part will take a significant place in the museum’s exhibition.

The three-year Tokat City Museum in a sense preserves several professions that have been almost forgotten, including carpet makers, knife grinders, saddle makers, cobblers (shoemakers), tinsmiths and tobacco makers, all of which are typified in the museum’s collection. The museum receives many domestic as well as international tourists. 

The museum, which was established by Historical City Association’s member Erbaa Municipality, aims to exhibit the ancient artisan professions in the museum and keep them alive.

Mock up and models in the museum

Erbaa mayor Ahmet Yenihan said the aim is to relay the craftsmanship that the artisan professions possess onto the coming generations, ensuring their survival rather than seeing to them being forgotten. “There is a collective memory of this city and our job is to keep this culture alive. It is also a must to pass these on to the next generations,” he said.

Noting that in the past those who had worked in these professions were also considered in the museum’s exhibit by mock up and models, he said there is an array of information about the professions present. It is also possible to see the materials that these people have used. 

Yenihan said there was a very famous shoemaker in the city – İsmail Mahar: “We have brought İsmail Mahar’s materials from his shop to display [at the museum]. In this way, people will be able to understand the profession better. It is also very important that people carrying out these professions given the respect they deserve as valued individuals and resident artisans of Erbaa, he said.

After the shoemaker Mahar passed away his sons continued in his legacy by maintaining the profession. 

“After his death his materials from the shop were taken and transferred to the museum. Instead of allowing it to wither away we wanted to keep the profession alive. We have met with Mahar’s family and agreed to display his profession and works at the museum,” he said.

Mehmet Usta

Meanwhile, the knife-grinding profession has also taken a place among the museum’s display by way of a highly respectable local Erbaa artisan by the name of Mehmet Usta (Usta being known as “master”, “old hand”, or “artisan” in Turkish). “Mehmet Usta used that grinder [on display] with him and would make his way through the streets of Erbaa. 

 His family contributed to the museum’s showcase by providing the museum with his grinder to allow Mehmet Usta’s memory and profession to consequently be able to be preserved.