There are crafts since there is mankind. First, they were responding to the needs of the population to settle and protect itself according to natural conditions available. Later, in response to environmental conditions changes and feelings that arise in society, crafts, which reflect then more an artistic sensibility and a cultural characteristic, acquire the qualification of "traditional".
Crafts for almost everyone is more or less inspired by its own culture, according to its lifestyle; experience and knowledge developed over years or centuries are so the reflection of a personnal message. Traditional crafts remains alive because they are transmitted from past to today.
Gaziantep craftsmen ensure sustainability and perenniality of the artisanal and traditional products of the city.
Gaziantep traditionnal handcrafts, component of the cultural heritage of different civilizations that succeeded in Anatolia for thousands years, created a very rich cultural mosaic by bringing together deep values.
Traditional Gaziantep Handicrafts can be listed as: mother of pearl inlaid, coppersmith, kutnu (silk woven textile), aba (coarse woolen cloth), fabric weaving, yemenicilik (traditional shoe art), Antep style hand embroidery, silver embroidery, Antep rug and carpet weaving, küpçülük (kitchen materials with clay), jewellery, packsaddle, shrill pipe, musical instruments, etc.
Mother of pearl inlaid
The item, which situated in some marine animals, is used in mother of pearl embroidery called pearl and it looks like hard, white and rainbow glitter with phosphoric feature; the person who is embroidering the material is called sedefkar. Known for centuries, pearl has taken the form ancient technic and artistic understanding by the people. After XV.Century, during the Ottoman Empire, pearl has entered into Turkish-Islamic art service and it continued its development with endless array of geometric patterns. Rumi (pattern) used it in different compositions such as inflexion, branching, connecting with main or auxiliary ligands, crossing each other and knotting. Rumi also started to use pearl with geometric designs and floral motifs.
The raw material of the pearl is mussel shell, various metal wires and walnut tree. Enriched with different motifs and patterns, mother of pearl and sedefkârlık art had been used in the architectural structures (mosques, palaces) as ornamentation, in some objects (furniture sets, mirrors, picture frames, coffee table, writing desks, lectern, kind of wooden products, chairs, jewelry boxes, canes, shelf, ashtrays) and gunstock. In Turkey, mother of pearl embroidery is widely held only in our province and produced mother of pearl crafts are exported to touristic regions and abroad.
(for more informations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ondq_0pTIGQ )
The copper is the most used metal in Anatolia. It is unknown that how long copper and coppersmith exist in Gaziantep however, the history of the copper and coppersmith are old as the history of mankind. According to the information obtained from important copper masters it is believed that history of the copper is as ancient as human history. Copper goods are produced by the copper and brass metals. The characteristic of Antep copper is to be manufactured as one-piece, it means that there is no solder or similar jointing methods. Today, copper mining objects are widely used in home, kitchen and as an ornament. Besides the simple copper product processing, other process is performed with a hammer and steel pen only in Gaziantep. In this processing method, development of a single piece sometimes takes weeks or even months. Produced copper objects in our city are quite appreciated and demanded in our country and abroad. These copper objects are divided into two groups as utensils and touristic ornaments.
Kutnu Fabric (silk woven textile)
Kutnu is a woven textile with a shiny surface and colourful vertical stripes, made with silk warps (lengthwise yarns) and cotton wefts (crosswise yarns). It used to be made on wooden looms with shuttle and pulling whip, but is today woven on more advanced dobby and jacquard looms. Although the type of loom may have changed, the weaving method has stayed the same for centuries.
In Turkey, the art of weaving kutnu is only practised in Gaziantep. It is known that, having been brought here from Syria in the 16th century, it was taken to new heights by the Antep craftsmen, who were able to sell their material far and wide.
As well as being healthy to wear, with its hallmark striking colour and designs kutnu cloth was admired and in demand over a wide area in the past. Kutnu is an important part of the traditional local costume, and is a true handcrafted product requiring different work at each stage of production. In the past employing thousands of Gaziantep inhabitants, the kutnu weaving sector is today being kept alive in the face of modern technology, by a small group of Craftsmen determined to continue the profession with painstaking hand labour.
( for more informations http://www.kutnu.org/ )
Aba Fabric (coarse woolen cloth)
Aba is a special fabric woven for male that is made from camel, ox and horse hair, goat hair and sheep wool. Today, this fabric is produced with polyester in order to reduce the cost. Having various motifs, aba is a kind of dress for men, formerly used by poor males. Nowadays it is used in the folk dance team. In the past, the biggest feature of the rope, used in producing aba, was natural color. The rope of aba which wanted to be different color, was being painted with desired rubia tinctorum. Today, mostly claret red polyester and different color silvery ropes are used for aba products. The people who weaving aba, are mostly rug producers and thats why they are using rug designs on aba. From these people, there are only one or two persons left and in order to be kept in mind this handicraft, Gaziantep University provides course to teach this art for new generations. Aba is called according to its rope, fabric color, size and region. Some of these names are; Kurbağalı Aba (used in folk dance clothes) Sandıklı, Zincirli, Homs and Maraş Aba.
Yemenicilik (traditional flat-heeled shoe art)
Yemeni is kind of traditional shoes red or black leather on the top of it and stitched with flat stout leather. Despite the fact that the name is also given for headscarf, in our region it is given for this kind of shoes. This shoes art is also called as köşgercilik. Köşger is originally coming from Persian. The initiator of this art was Yemen-i Ekber, where the name of the yemeni comes from. This type of shoes is very healthy, it does not make your feel smell and it gives the sweat to outside from the shoes. It is believe that these shoes pass the electricity in the human body to the ground and relaxes the body.
(for more informations: http://yemenicihayriusta.com.tr/ )
Antep style hand embroidery
This art is done by counting strings on a white fabric. It is not known that which years Antep style hand embroidery had been started, however in 1850s, for the first time it had been seen in some Gaziantep villages. Thus, in these villages, one would have started to reproduce the motives on men’s hech cap on their shoes. This phenomenon would have been passed to the city on finer fabrics. Having the same embroidery characters in the past and today's handycrafts it indicates that this art is still done by Gaziantep citizens.
Due to being on the historic Silk Road, many of trade route merged in Gaziantep. That is reason why Gaziantep has a strong economy being kept live as it was in the past. In this live market, silver has an important place. Because silver is the precious metal which had been used for a long time as a jewelry. The silvers found in Carchemish, Doliche, Zeugma antique cities and tells indicate that silverwork and the usage of the silver were widespread since the ancient time in our city and region. Silverwork and use of silver showed further advanced processing and diversity with the spread of Islam in Anatolia. Any kind of object (like belts or prayer beads) has some silverwork on it. In recent years, silver has shown great development thank to Turkey's rapid growing, tourism movement and technology. It is indicated that Gaziantep has right now about 50 silver shops and these shops provide an important foreign currency input.
Antep rugs are known very different from other Anatolian rugs with its shape, looms, weave and embroidery. It is not known exactly when rugging started in that region. The raw material of the rugs is the ox, camel and horse hair, sheep wool and goat hair. Today, there are also rug made from acrylic. The motifs used in Antep rugs as follows:
Consisting of line, dot and circle motifs
İdeographic motifs (mountain, house, throne, scepter)
Floral motifs (flowers, leaves)
Researches conducted in the region shows that rugs are only manufactured in handlooms and when this art was very popular, there were almost 7000 handlooms in Gaziantep; however, in the 1960s it was found that this number dropped to 100-150. Because of the technology lowering the quality as a solution for less demand, the demand on Antep rugs reduced and looms started to disappear step by step. Nowadays, generally women weave the rugs in order to meet their needs in the Gaziantep villages. Public Education Centers also opened several courses for rug weaving.
It is not known exactly when küpçülük production began in Gaziantep. But in the area, archaeological excavations of various historical sites, has demonstrated its existence at the Neolithic period (6000-7000 C. BC). The production of this type of ceramic is also found in certain subsequent periods. In short, it is known that the persons settled in the region and their successors, used the clay and soil resources available locally.
The küp (ceramic) is made of a mixture of 2 or 3 different type of clay and of silica. This mixture to be durable and of good quality must be kneaded for such a time and must then rest for a long time to “ferment”. This “fermented fabric” is then treated with fast wheel or motor-driven wheel.
Previously, the thus formed ceramics were more dishes, pots, cups and other storage or cooking vessels, whereas nowadays, it is more flower pots, pipes, bricks, tiles or roofing materials or other products made of the same way.
The modernization of cooking techniques and substitution of vessel in clay by those of glass, steel or tin has caused over the years the decrease of their production. However, certain ceramics ats culinary destination are still produced and used by Gaziantep people as cooking-pots, usually give to district’s bakery to cook.
For religious reasons, the Muslim Turks of Gaziantep produce few gold jewellery during the Ottoman period. The principal production centre of the province which was depended Gaziantep was Aleppo. The gold objects manufactured in this city were routed to Gaziantep where they were sold by Armenians people living in Gaziantep. Some armenians families became thus very famous in this business.
After the departure of those Armenians families from Gaziantep, consequence of the Independence War, the jewellery sector fell into disuse. It's only in 1918 with the arrival from Medina of a master jeweller that the activity restarts.
Today this activity is extremely popular and the supply and demand is very high. Gaziantep jewellers Gaziantep produce bracelets, rings, sometimes set with precious stones, filigree jewellery, etc.
Today, approximately 400 jeweller’s stores exist in Gaziantep, and about 2,000 people work in this sector.
Zurnalık (shrill pipe making)
In the Turkish folklore, traditional music and its intruments are integral parts of the popular traditions. For the Turkish folk, when we talk about traditional musical instruments comes to mind a simple object that do not necessarily respect the acoustic laws, unmanufactured, nonstandard sized and shaped, but with a strong ethnographic connotation. The zurna (shrill pipe), made of apricot tree wood, is an instrument of this type; it is very popular in Gaziantep where it is almost always associated with the drum, also very popular in Gaziantep. The zurna is an instrument of an ancient use, which dates back to the history of Central Asia. In Gaziantep, making shrill pipe goes back to this tradition.
Zurna consists of three parts and there are 3 different types of pipes, each corresponding to three different sounds.
Musical instruments making
Musical instruments continue to be made on traditional way. The materials used are varied and come from wood, plants or animals, such as hides, catgut, hair, horn and bone. All types of instruments (string, percussion and wind) are represented. Especially in Gaziantep, the saz or “turkish bağlama” is handmade and made from mulberry tree.