Avrasya Üniversitesi

Some of Trabzon’s Traditional Crafts

Another feature of Trabzon is that it is an important crafts centre. Many travellers, among them Evliya Çelebi, and various researchers have praised the traditional crafts of the city. Only a few of these crafts, each of which once had its own street and bazaar, have managed to survive to the present day. Both the crafts and handicrafts that have survived in the city centre and villages and those that have died out may be summarised according to the materials used.

Articles made of carved stone: Stonemasons made articles for architectural ornamentation, together with millstones, grinders and dough troughs with stone from special quarries. Some grinders had legs and some did not. They usually stood in front of the “serander”, a timber structure mounted on piles; this building was used for the storage of nuts, grain, etc. The grinder was used for the grinding of maize and wheat.

Articles made of metal: According to information obtained from various sources, crafts such as the making of jewellery and knives and the working of iron and copper occupied a major place in Trabzon towards the end of the l9th century.

Today, however, the making of plaited straw bracelets and filigree work flourish. In Sürmene, the place of the traditional Sürmene knives has been taken by kitchen knives and tea shears (for use in tea plantations). Until recently niello work was practised at Sürmene, but this is dying out. The art of beaten copper, the noblest of Trabzon’s crafts, still flourishes. It is a known fact that Trabzon was one of the main copper mining centres of the Ottoman era and was famous for its original copper cauldrons, ewers, bowls and buckets.

Articles made of Wood: In this timber-rich region people made the building mat rials, furniture and household articles they needed from wood and for this reason many small items are also made of wood. These include baskets, chairs, spoons, ladles, troughs for various purposes, tubs for use in cheese-making, churns, water containers and kitchen items, these being the first to come to mind.

However, the making of these wooden vessels is dying out. In spite of their interesting features, they are being discarded and destroyed.

Textiles: The oldest of the region’s crafts is textile production. Silk and cotton towels, striped aprons, scissor-motif headscarves and Trabzon cloth were always in demand.

Different fabrics were produced on the wool, linen and cashmere looms. Linen underwear, woollen knee-breeches, waist-cloths, cradle canopies, horse-cloths, saddle-bags and bags were made. Cord, braid, cradle ropes etc were woven on simple floor or portable looms. The brightly coloured, embroidered stockings that women used to wear have been replaced by synthetics.The textiles requiring so much labour that used to be produced in the villages have been abandoned.

In the past, together with these raw materials, mats and prayer rugs were made from bast and straw and vessels of various kinds from tree bark, particularly those used for adding ashes to the laundry tub.