As all over the world, traditional handicrafts are dying an ever faster death in Turkey as the life-style they were part of gives way to rampant modernisation. For the time being your best hope of seeing the old crafts still in action is in the eastern part of the country. Within individual communities it’s in the bazaar areas of the west that some still cling to life.

Not much call for felt overcoats these days

While destructive in so many ways, tourism has actually offered a new life for some crafts that were on their last legs  but have been able to reinvent themselves for a new world. The felt-makers of Tire, for example, may not find may buyers these days for heavy felt overcoats for shepherding sheep or for thick mats for houses. However, they’ve discovered ways to thin their product down so that it can be used to make shawls, bags and slippers for a different audience.

Most at risk of extinction are those crafts that can’t be re-imagined. Tinners, for example, were vital in the days when metal cooking ware needed to be tinned both to avoid it rusting and to prevent contamination of the contents. There are not many ways in which that process can live on in an age of plastic everything. 

Traditional saddle-maker at work in Bingöl in 2010
Felt made for modern consumers

Good places to see craftwork in action

Nazarköy, near İzmir

Tire, near Selçuk

Read more about Turkish towels: Turkish Towels

Read more about a female carpet-dealer: Buying Carpets in Turkey

Tinner at work

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