Heidi Trautmann

841 -May your hands be blessed - ellerine sağlık An exhibition to honour Cypriot Women’s handicraft

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.







Some years ago I interviewed Mustafa Eminağa, the owner of the Botanical Garden Green Heights, he had started s silk prosduction...See the link below:


The cocoons of silkworms
The cocoons of silkworms

Mrs Dervişe Çeliker on the right; on the left is the carving teacher
Mrs Dervişe Çeliker on the right; on the left is the carving teacher

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