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[Folk Arts] [Plastic folk arts]


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We can say that wood has always been very important for Turks in every period of time. Ancient Turks, who lived in Central Asia and believed in shamanism, had worshipped trees and offered sacrifices to them. There was a tree representing each Turk tribe. They considered it as a symbol for sovereignty and dynasty. Shaman priests considered the trees as ladders for reaching the sky.

While they were using the trees, which were very important in their belief, in their living spaces, they performed one of the most beautiful arts. In early ages, they produced small tables, trappings, weapons, animal figurines and inscriptions on tablets, all made of wood. Animal descriptions and herbal items related to the belief of that age decorated these works of art.

Turks, who adopted Islamic religion, used wood in great amount in mosques, the most important places for devotions, and they even built small mosques with wooden posts. Items like niche, pulpit, shutters, and doors were all designed for wood.

In Seljuk age; quadruple node motifs, geometric star joints, rumis, herbal motifs with curly branches and inscriptions decorated wood work. The level of handcraftsmanship of sarcophagi and letterns of Seljuk age cannot be reached yet today. In Ottoman age, ivory, nacre and tortoiseshell had been used with wood; valuable artworks which required fine mastery were produced. Throne, lettern, Koran container, quilted turban cases, cases; inkstand and wooden spoons again became the inseparable parts of the architectural factor.

The most preferred trees in wood work had been walnut, ebony, linden, cedar, rose, apple and pear trees. Carving, framing, kundekari, inlaying and painting were the most used techniques.

Wood is an organic material which requires maintenance. It very easily outwears, swells and gets damaged in time. Since the old Turkish grave type, cairns, were below ground and got frosted because of cold climate and by being filled up with water, the oldest wooden artworks could be extant. In kundekari technique used in Islamic woodwork, motifs were carved to be jointed in positive-negative way. The parts, which were jointed without using any nails or adhesive, expand together in time, so ruptures between parts were prevented.

We can see that woodwork continues with beautiful samples. Spoon making ranks fist in this. Akseki, Gediz and Tarakli are the main production centers of spoon making which has been carried out in Konya since Seljuk age. Box, oak and pear trees are preferred as they let shaping with adze and rasp. These spoons, which are decorated with motifs and scripture, painted and finished, vary as table spoons, decoration spoons and folk dance spoons.

Production of wooden cane and staff, which have been used for ages, are of that woodwork going on today. Especially Zonguldak, Ordu, Bitlis-Ahlat, Gaziantep, Bursa, Istanbul-Beykoz have been important production centers, the most beautiful samples have been produced in 19th century. Handgrips of the canes and staffs, whose bodies are made of rose tree and reed, are decorated with valuable materials like gold, silver and bones.

Also, production of wooden musical instruments and wooden pack saddles continues.