By Heidi Trautmann
Oral Andiz, who is he? He is a Cypriot, I found out, born in 1937 in Nicosia, who during all his life has worked for his country, for the conservation of values of heritage as a member of the Urban Development Department, for the unique nature on the island as photographer and environmentalist and co-founder of Çekova, the first environmental protection foundation, and as most active photographic researcher in the field of antique architecture.
Oral Andiz lives on the outskirts of Nicosia, facing the Kyrenia mountains and the Mesaoria in-between. I have come to him to talk about his book about Cyprus doors and windows which was recently published. Oral Andiz welcomes me with some words in German and explains that he has lived in Germany for two years when he went there in 1969 to study interior design. “I have travelled through your country with my camera and have visited most of your historical cities.” He was always highly interested in architectural history, since he had started to work as an inspector of construction in 1962 where due to his job he came across so many cultural remains of buildings, and with his technical knowledge he immediately understood what unique proofs of different cultures he had in front of him.
“However, my collection of photographs of old doors and windows from different epochs dates back to my early childhood, when in the village of my grandfather I discovered my love for old village houses, for their past, their structure and traditions. So it was quite a natural development when this love became part of my profession and sort of a lifelong passion.”
This passion was shared by his wife Sevinç who in her activities at the Antiquity Department has published a book on the antique Efkaf buildings in Cyprus. Not only had they a common interest in recording the remaining richness of cultural heritage but Sevinç accompanied her husband on the many tours across the country, discovering hidden treasures of old doors and windows, researching their history and background, archiving the material found and finally being able to establish a common design of origin. Doors and windows dating back as far as 1800, doors and windows made of wood in a distinct Ottoman pattern, a design which was executed by Armenian artisans from Anatolia, where the style originated from.
We go through the book together and he points out typical examples of different periods including arches and elements of Ottoman times and others of Lusignan origin. Patterns of wrought iron grilles on doors and windows, other decorating wrought iron elements such as handles, knockers and hand forged round nails. Doors with the typical diamond or rhombus pattern and with the wooden opening mechanism on the back of the door panels. There are some doors in Karaman in this book I have opened myself, I remarked. “Yes, there are doors which have survived the ignorance and are well kept and live on in honour but it hurts me to say that many of the doors I have photographed during the last twenty years have vanished, have been secretly removed from its original places and put elsewhere, houses have been demolished, and many of the buildings you see in this book are no longer there; my photos in this book are the only proof that they once existed.”
Oral Andiz has over many years fought for the awareness of his people with other means as well by publishing articles in Kibris Newspaper on subjects of culture, art and environment, and has laid open his love for his country’s nature. He is about to finish another book on the restoration of the Büyük Han in which he had a great part by evaluating the remnants. It will come out in March of this year, also in Turkish and English. A third book he is working on will be entitled “The Past of Cyprus” where he will use the material from his bottomless archive.
I hand the book to Oral Andiz to please sign it for me so I can take it home, study it and share it with my friends worldwide. And he signs it with some friendly words in German.
The bilingual book which contains a foreword by the famous Turkish Cypriot architect Hakki Atun is available at Deniz Plaza at the price of TL 40
Note: This article is published in the March Issue of Pegasus Cyprus Sky Onboard Magazine