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Leather in Anatolia

Leather and leather products hold a special position in Turkish Handicrafts which date back to centuries ago. Leather is a very thick, rough, durable and flexible layer that covers the grown animals’ torsos. Raw animal leather cleaned from fur and wool becomes a valuable material that can be used for many purposes if processed properly using the right techniques. 

Leather works has been present to meet the covering and sheltering needs of humans against harsh natural circumstances since primitive ages.
Processing leather and using processed leather in various areas of life started when humans which shifted from nomadic life to settlements in order to produce their own belongings. 

Historical Development:

Due to its organic composition, leather findings from ancient times can rarely be found.
The most important findings reflecting the Turkish culture were found in kurgans found in the Pazyryk region of the Altai Mountains.
A second and more important reason why leather products remained intact in the kurgans which lay beneath icebergs was that these were tanned very well.
The fact that colored leather was not found until those times is thought of as an indication of Turks’ being superior to other civilizations in terms of coloring, tanning and embellishing leather in the world’s history of leather.

Taking into consideration leather processing and leather products, it can be understood that Anatolia –along with Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations- has a long history of leather crafting based on the leather pieces found during the excavations carried out in , Boğazköy (Hattusa)  and .
One of the finest examples to these findings is the leather covers on the bronze sarcophaguses from the Muş region which are displayed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Artistic works that belong to the pre-Islamic Turkish art were functional products the purpose of which was to meet everyday needs of people.

It is assumed that everyday articles produced to meet needs were shaped with the interactions with other cultures and the religions which influenced the societies and reached an artistic dimension through the eyes of modern people.  

During the process which followed Turks’ acknowledging the religion of Islam, the products they created in various geographical regions developed within the Turkish-Islamic synthesis.

The richest examples of leather crafting can be found in the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. The Seljuk era formed an interesting synthesis of Anatolia’s local culture and the culture Turks brought from their homelands.

The artistic approach of the Anatolian Seljuks and the Seigniories led to important development in leather crafting due to various reasons which included passionate devotion to creating artworks in all areas, seeking authenticity in terms of materials and decoration and seigneurs and other people of high status patronizing and encouraging art and artists. 

One of the most important examples to the design approach shaped by the Anatolian Turkish art is the Seljuk Tomes.  They bear typical designing elements of the Turkish Islamic art like the Shemse form and the rumi pattern. Also many leather products like saddles, harnesses, boots, shoes, armrests, belts, shields and quivers were produced for sultans during this era. 

It is known that during the Ottoman era, leather was widely used in the palace which was the center of government and art and many articles made of leather reached artistic value. Leather which was primarily used to meet the needs of the

army during this era was the main material used in countless areas from shoes to book covers and from bags to household and clothing articles. This was why during Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s rule; tanning yards were located all in the same area –in Kazlıçeşme- and leather manufacturers in another –in Saraçhane.
The leather manufacturers of this area were the ones to invent the world-famous ‘red sahtiyan’ with their special formula and techniques. 

Artworks which were masterpieces in terms of form, technique and ornamentation and produced between the 16th and 19th centuries including plate covers, spoon holders and chandelier bases from the Ottoman era are currently displayed in the Topkapı Palace Museum. 

Leather Processing Techniques....see. Leather Crafting

Derinin tanımı, yapısı, elde edilmesi, tarihi gelişimi, korunması ve işleme teknikleri hk. see...

 

    Kapat
 

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Photos:M.Özdemir-N.Kayabaşı, Geçmişten Günümüze Dericilik, Kültür Bakanlığı,Ankara 2007

 
     
 
 
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