World churches get a door to the world from Hatay

World churches get a door to the world from Hatay

HATAY - Dogan News Agency
World churches get a door to the world from Hatay

Ali Altun sends the doors he produces to the churches around the world upon their request. He also produces doors for mosques. AA photos

Fittingly for the site of one of Christianity’s oldest churches, the southern province of Hatay is now exporting intricate church doors around the world thanks to the efforts of a local artisan, Ali Altun.
Though Altun, 55, has been interested in carving wood since childhood, his involvement in carving wooden doors for churches started later.

“I was designing parts on dining and sitting rooms sets produced by furniture companies. My work drew the attention of various circles,” he said.

“I wanted to make figures for church doors in order to give life to wood and my designs were appreciated. Then I started working on apostle statues. After I made a few doors, my work began to draw interest and this intense interest led me to start making different designs. I made a door with the figure of St. Pierre for a [local] Orthodox church,” Altun said. “While visiting the church, a team from the United States saw the door and liked it a lot. They asked me to make a door for the St. Andrea Church in southern California. I made the door for them, and then I made all the church’s doors.”

Altun is now selling the doors he produces in his atelier to churches in the U.S., Nigeria, Germany and Britain.

HDN The artisan said he had started carving wood when he was in primary school, but started working in the sector full-time after finishing school.  Altun said that thanks to the church doors, he had become internationally known. “I had received a proposal from Florida to make a door for a church there.

Besides the church door, we have also made various objects in the church such as the priest’s seat. We have sent these works to many countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. We are trying to improve our profession.”

Altun’s wood-working talents are not just restricted to Christianity, however, as the artisan also produces doors for mosques.

Ultimately, through the production of both church and mosque doors, Altun said he was contributing to the promotion of Hatay throughout the world.

Religiously diverse

Hatay is one of Turkey’s most religiously diverse provinces, with a population that includes Sunni Turks, Sunni Arabs, Arab Alevis (Alawites), Arabic-speaking Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Kurds. Hatay was an important center of early Christianity, with the name “Christian” first being applied to the followers of Jesus in Antioch, the modern-day Antakya, which is the seat of the Hatay province. Antakya’s Cave Church of St. Peter dates to the fourth-century A.D.