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It is known that man has decorated almost all objects of use with motifs in the historical process. Moreover, the desire to fill in empty spaces in man’s psychology also contributed greatly to the emergence of the concept of decoration. Beautification of objects of wear and use in various fashions is a result of man’s desire to express themselves via decorations. Thus, man has always sought after innovations.

Embroidery is the art of surface ornamentation applied with silken threads, gold, silver, purl and needles on leather or fabric stretched on such tools as hoops and frames. The process is still used today in its original form.

Although it was originally applied on tanned leather or parchment, it was later applied generally on woven fabric.

Embroidery is different than such techniques as needlework, lace, and knitting and sewing.

History of Embroidery

Pieces of cannabis and remnants of woven fabric discovered in the excavations in Alacahöyük, the capital of the Hittite Civilization (2000 B.C.) which is known to extend to 7000 B.C., as well as the decorations on clothing observed on Hittite reliefs, prove the presence of embroidery in ancient times.

The motif and pattern approach on the hand embroidery and lace works collected from the villages in the settlement region of the ancient Phrygian civilization (100-700 B.C.) in Anatolia are quite striking in terms of their resemblance to the motifs observed in the Phrygian-Hattian culture. 

Excavations performed in the city of Sard of the Lydian (668-587 B.C.) civilization revealed pieces of embroidered cloths on fabrics.

First findings of Turkish embroidery, dating back to the 1st – 3rd Century B.C., were found in the tombs of Hun princesses located in the Pazirik area on Altai Mountains. Works discovered in these tombs were created generally via the appliqué technique. Moreover, thin leather and felt were the main connective materials.

Uyghur Turks adopted a sedentary life in the 8th-9th Century B.C. and the noble clothes depicted on frescoes of the period indicate rich ornamentations. Pieces of cloth surviving to our modern day indicate that this embroidery was applied mostly in the appliqué style on cotton fabrics.  

Seljuks settling on Anatolian land after the 11th Century brought with them a culture based on the ideas of Middle Asia-Shaman, China-Tao, Buddhism, Iran-Mani and Parsee (1). Therefore, this period is quite important in terms of its role as a source and pioneer for the Ottoman culture. 

The bright era of the Turkish embroidery coincides with the Ottoman period. Turkish embroidery of the Ottoman period was produced in two different spheres, namely the embroidery works of the Palace and the Public. 

Crown Embroidery is based on certain principles embraced by the high class. Patterns for this embroidery were drawn and prepared at the Palace on the basis of the current fashion or requirements. Then, these patterns were disseminated to urban workshops and thus, the public. On the other hand, embroidery works produced in rural areas outside this sphere were shaped within the scope of the public’s own traditions and wishes.

Embroidery compositions either covered a part or the whole of the given surface depending on the shape and function of the embroidered piece or were arranged according to the shape of the given object. 

In terms of colours, works were divided into two groups, namely mono- and multi-coloured.

Mono-coloured embroidery was produced with gold en and silver wires and yellow and white purl and multi-coloured embroidery with various colours used together. 

In the making of Turkish embroidery, two types of frames are used, namely table-shaped and round hoop.

Embroidery techniques applied for centuries are of a great range and can be grouped under four headings: Hesap Embroidery, Handprint Embroidery, Dival Embroidery and White Embroidery.
Among these, the most commonly used one is Hesap technique and applied on almost all types of textile works.

Today, thousands of samples from the 16th-19th Centuries are displayed at domestic and international museums.

The most distinctive feature of Turkish embroidery is the use of stylized motifs in addition to natural forms in almost all works and abstention from realistic depictions. After the 17th Century, various changes were affected on forms with a shift towards more realistic and naturalistic depictions.




Source: Oya Sipahioğlu, Tire Müzesinde Bulunan İşlemelerin Teknik ve Sanatsal Açıdan İncelenmesi ve Yeni Tasarımlar, DEÜ Sosyal Bilimler Ens. Sanatta Yeterlilik Tezi, İzmir, 1997

     Aydın Uğurlu, Osmanlı Dokumalarında Süs ve İhtişam, İlgi, S.76, 1994

     Ayten Sürür, Türk işleme Sanatı, Akbank 1976
     Ayten Sürür,
Türk işlemelerinde Bölge Özellikleri,Türkiyemiz, Y.5, S.14, 1971

     Burton Berry, Old Turkish Towels, 1938

     Celal Arseven, Sanat Ansiklopedisi, İstanbul 1950

     Emin Cenkmen, Osmanlı Sarayı ve Kıyafetleri, İstanbul, 1943

     G.Von Palotay, Turkish Embroideries, London 1954

     H.Züber, Türk Süsleme Sanatları, T.İş Bankası, Ankara 1971

     Kenan Özbel, Eski El İşlemeleri, El Sanatları 4, Ankara 1949 

     M.Celal Lampe, Türk İşlemeleri, İstanbul 1939

     Macide Gönül, Topkapı Sarayı Kolleksiyonundan Bazı Türk İşlemeleri, İstanbul 1969

     Macide Gönül, Türk El İşleri Sanatı, (16-19.yy), Ankara , 1973

     Nezahat Turkan, Gümüş Isıltılı Telkırma / Silver Strip Embroidery, Skylife, Eylül 2003
     Nurhayat Berker
, İşlemeler, Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 1981

     Nurhayat Berker-Yusuf Durul, Türk İşlemelerinden Örnekler, Ak Yayınları, 1971

     Örcün Barışta, Osmanlı İmparatorluk Dönemi Türk İşlemeleri, Osmanlı Kültür ve Sanat, Ankara 1999

     Örcün Barışta, Türk İşleme Sanatı Tarihi, GÜ Yayınları, Ankara 1995

     Örcün Barışta, Özel Müzelerimiz ve Kolleksiyonlarımız II, Sanat Dünyamız 1984

     Örcün Barışta, Türk İşlemelerinde Teknikler, Ankara 1978

     Pauline Johlnstone,Turkish Embroidery, Victoria Albert Museum 1985

     Selma Delibaş, Türk İşlemeleri, Sanat, S.7, 1982

     Semiha Başbuğ, Türk işlemeleri, İstanbul, 1964

     Sevim Fenercioğlu, Türk İşlemelerinde Motifler, Ankara

     Ulla Ther, 16-20 yy. Gezi Edebiyatında Yerli Türk İşlemeleri, Türkiyemiz, Y.24, S.72,1994
     Ulla Ther,
Türk İşlemeleri, Bremen, 1993

(1) Aydın Uğurlu, Orta Çağ Anadolu Dokuma Sanatı, İlgi, Y.21, S.48, 1987

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