Traditional Anatolian dolls in demand as gift

Traditional Anatolian dolls in demand as gift

SİVAS - Anadolu Agency
Traditional Anatolian dolls in demand as gift

Gülizar Sağlam produces the wooden dolls using plastic materials for hands and head, and traditional dresses for clothing. AA photo

An old Turkish woman living in the central Anatolian province of Sivas’ Karacaören village is producing wood dolls and clothing them with traditional dresses. Gülizar Sağlam, 62, sells the dolls to guests visiting the village and sends them to foreign countries.

Sağlam learned how to cut trees by working with her carpenter husband for some time, has been producing wooden dolls for nearly four years with a simple method she invented. She makes the body of the wooden doll and covers it with unused fabric pieces. She uses plastic materials for the head and hands and uses traditional dresses for their clothing. Every doll is given a different name and Sağlam sells them mostly to families who live abroad, but also to those who come to visit the village.

She develops the wood using a simple cutting and nailing process. She said the first doll she made was life-sized and was able to dress it with her own clothing. “Later, I made a few more dolls and people wanted to buy them, but I did not want to let them go. I sell what I produce and earn my pocket money. I supported my husband’s expenses when he was being treated in the hospital,” she said.

Explaining how she produces the dolls, she says: “I choose the woods from unspoiled trees. I first cut the wood for different body parts, I cut hands and legs. I make arms using wire. I only prepare the head and hands. I cover the wooden legs and arms with fabric or sponges and strengthen them with rope. Finally, I attach the head and hands and dress them up with clothes. After completing them, I name them.”

Traditional Anatolian dolls in demand as giftSağlam said she lives in Ankara during the winter and continues making dolls there. “I produce the unique dresses of our region for the dolls. I visit open bazaars and spare part sellers. I also cut the unused dresses at home. I look for regional pieces and find them. I sew baggy trousers, skirts, shoes, blouses and waistcoats at night. I make everything myself. This makes me forget the pain of my deceased husband and helps to pass the time,” she said.

Sağlam said at the same time she also makes the dolls to keep their culture alive, adding, “We grew up with these clothes, but they are just worn for folklore plays these days. We don’t wear them anymore, either. I want to give life to the woods and show the culture of our region in these dolls.”

One doll in four days

One doll is finished in four days, including the preparation of its dress. “I make seven or eight dolls a month. I sometimes receive orders and then make more dolls. I sell them to people visiting the village. They take them to countries like Germany and the Netherlands as gifts. I make the body according to the size of the doll’s head. Their height changes upon demand. The smallest one is about 70 centimeters. I sell the small ones for 50 Turkish Liras and the bigger ones for 70 liras,” said Sağlam.

She wants to teach other women how to make dolls and open a course in the village. “There are many women who want to learn the skill,” she said.

She also said she will apply for the establishment of a museum in their village to display their regional products. “I will continue making these dolls. I will also start making male dolls. I want to establish a museum and display these dolls there.”