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Traditional Turkish Arts and Their Development in the Anatolian Geography


Having developed through a long and wide historical process, the artistic heritage of Turkey has been enriched not only by past Turkish states, but also by various and deep-rooted sources that cannot be reduced to any society or period. 

Comprising the accumulation of the whole history of humanity in a sense, Turkish arts have been carried and refined in history through the experiences of the civilizations that had existed for thousands of years on lands conquered or occupied by Turks such as Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Iran and Anatolia.

Products of daily use that used to meet numerous needs of people as a part of their daily lives are described today as ‘handicrafts’ and are actually the products of the experience and knowledge accumulated through long years of history. 

The knowledge and experience reflected onto these products provide continuity in culture and intrinsically possess the relevant historical values. Therefore, handicrafts – one group of material products of the culture that brings past experiences to our modern day – are of a significant ‘documentary’ quality in terms of the cultural history of societies. 

These products of daily use, known as handicrafts, reflect feelings and tastes predominant in their respective communities. The producers of these materials search for correctness and beauty to their own taste during the production process and as a result, create an emblem of reality. These products are created in an environment entwined with nature. During such production, the producer’s feelings about and personal contributions to nature are reflected upon passing through the filter of public taste.

Produced with natural materials and within the environment of man’s relationship with nature, these handicrafts are either learned within the family through demonstrations by mothers, fathers or aunts or taught by masters to apprentices or overseers and thus produced in the working environment. However, this training does not include any specific rules in writing. Everything is taught and passed by old generations to new generations by way of memory. 

Hence, forms and patterns that have been developed and shaped through the history are reproduced again and again by coming generations. The works are taught and produced during the production phase itself with the contribution of various traditions.

When traditional handicrafts are considered in terms of form and functionality, it is explicitly observed that function defines the form. Such production in forms defined by functional features reveal a traditional dimension. When the products are viewed on the basis of this dimension, a series of traditions, customs, manners and morals are observed to be influential in all stages from the production to the utilization of such products.  

A product that we use for décor somewhere in our houses as ‘a great work of handicraft’ cannot be evaluated by abstracting it from its traditional meanings, without considering that it has been learned and produced visually upon demonstrations and training within families and possesses a meaning for the people with its form and patterns developed through history. 

Traditional Turkish arts that have survived to our day can be evaluated in two groups.

The first of these include such handicrafts as rugs, carpets, socks and embroidery that reflect the nomadic culture semi-preserved in traditional communities, while the second group represent ornamentation, calligraphy and miniature that were modified and developed within the Palace in line with the Palace’s own taste.

For more information on arts and crafts see...



Pretextat Lacomte, Türkiye’de Sanatlar ve Zanaatler 19.yy Sonu, İstanbul

Prof. İsmail Öztürk
El Sanatı (Zanaatı) Ve Sanat Kavramları I 
İsmail Öztürk, Geleneksel Türk El sanatlarına Giriş, Ankara 1994,

Prof. İsmail Öztürk
El Sanatı (Zanaatı) Ve Sanat Kavramları II
İsmail Öztürk, Geleneksel Türk El sanatlarına Giriş, Ankara 1994,

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