By Heidi Trautmann
“Our women’s handicraft is
part of our culture” says Dervişe Çeliker “and
it is important that it will not be forgotten.”
Dervişe Çeliker is the president of ‘Kibris Türk Işlemeleri
Araştırma ve Yaçatma Derneği’ which means ‘Association for the Research and
Conservation of Cyprus Turkish Handicraft’
The association was formally
established in 2004 although it had started functioning in 2003.
For four days in March 2016
the 26 active members of the association showed their work in a beautiful
exhibition at the Eaved House in Nicosia.
Some of the ladies who have
contributed their work for the exhibition show me around and proudly stand in
front of their ….you want believe it …carved chests, mirror frames besides
other disciplines of the range of handicrafts that are on the agenda of the
association. The teacher for the wood carving section is a fragile blond woman
who has taught her students how to work the old patterns into proper furniture
and sculptures. I am impressed. In two rooms I find a cross section of most
beautiful samples of old Cypriot handicraft art, lacework and embroidery of the
finest and I hear that some pieces have taken them months to finish.
They make me a present of
two books written by the president of the association Mrs Dervişe Çeliker, one (Turkish/English 1st
publication in 2009) is with a complete overview on the technique and motifs of
‘Koza’ that is the silkworm cocoon, an art which is unique and makes part of unique
Cypriot handicraft; the second (Turkish 1st publication in 2011) is an overview on all forms of handicraft, knitting,
embroidery, lacework and all its different styles in various villages, such for
example Lefkara and Lapta.
“In our modern times young
people have no longer time to sit down and do some work with their hands in the
tradition of the past, so the only thing we can do is conserve the knowledge
and try to invite them to courses so they get an idea of what their families
did when there was no television, no I-pads, no distraction offered by Mr.
Google; when the only entertainment was within a village, with the neighbours
on the porch in summer or around a kerosene light.”
We had sat down for a talk,
Dervişe and I, and I ask her how it came about that she got interested in
handicraft, had she studied it?
“It was with my mother in
our village Denia south of Nicosia that it was a normal activity with the
neighbours, one sat together and we worked, my mother woke this passion in me. I
was born in Nicosia and went to school there. I had opened the ‘Ayder Wedding
Dress Shop’ in 1971, that is when I was 16 years old; in 1973 I graduated from
Atatürk Girls Institute. All my life I worked in the interest of women in
Councils and Associations and was elected the first woman member at the Chamber
of Cyprus Turkish Tradesmen and Craftmen. When I had to retire in 2000 for
health reasons I started to give private lessons in my home to women and girls
in the art of Cypriot handicraft and when the Ministry of Education became
aware of it they asked me to teach teachers and village ladies around the
island. This work and the appreciation made me determined to continue on this
road and I started to do intensive research in this field. That finally led to
the founding of our Association which is located at the back of EMAA in the
former Municipality building of Nicosia. We regularly hold meetings there and
courses to teach. Right now we have over 100 members of which 26 are active, these
are the ladies who have displayed their work at the present exhibition.”
I have passed two enjoyable
hours with the ladies of the Association and I also thank Latif Ince whose
mother is involved as well and whom I know from the Ministry of Tourism, for
the support with translating.
I expressed the wish that
such exhibitions may in the future be shown in Girne as well as I am sure that
many foreign residents who live here on this side of the Kyrenia mountain range
would be very interested in this precious side of Cypriot culture.