Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kavaklıdere and the Art of the Copper Smiths

Last time I was lucky enough to be in Bodrum  for the week I was unable to resist the opportunity to get in the car and set off of places new.
This time I was accompanied by my sister-in-law Mary and my cousins wife Julia, and a Turkish friend, Metin who offered to drive us. This didn't turn out to be as much fun for him as he thought, having to listen to a constant stream of commands to slow down and belt up. He'll think again before offering to drive some Irish women anywhere. The truth is we drove him.........around the bend!!

However, his suggestion to visit Kavaklidere near his home town of Yatağan was wonderful. Plans made we decided to set off reasonably early. Unfortunately we woke up to the sound of rain bouncing off the terrace.
Luckily my visitors were undeterred by rain, after all we are Irish and decided we should go, instead of spending the day looking at each other.

Passing many marble factories on the way, we arrived in Kavaklidere just before noon. The skies had cleared and we were free to ramble.

Kavaklıdere is located 26kms of the Aydin –Mugla road and is famous for its handmade copper crafts. It is approximately 700-800 m high and the area was originally settled by nomads. Their nomadic traditions can still be seen in their weddings and  festivals. It is an area of natural beauty and 70% of the area is covered by pine forests. The town has a population of 2822 and is set into the side of a hill!

The town is known for its copper smiths and everywhere we could hear the tapping of their hammers against the metal as they made their pots and pans.

The story of the copper smiths in Kavaklidere began in the 14th century when the nomads from Turkmenistan settled in the area,  With no running water nomads used copper pots and utensils to carry water.  Later making copper items became the main source of generating income in this area.

It became a highly skilled trade passed down from father to son through the generations.
 In the 1970’s  there were between 180-200 copper smiths working in the area and donkeys were used to market the products  to other parts of Turkey. In 1984 to foster this profession a factory was established to manufacture copper plate. However as glass, steel and  porcelain replace copper in our kitchens, the factory was forced to close down.

Whereas in the past copper smithing generated 80% of the income in the area this figure is now in the region of 10% and interest in being a copper smith has dropped dramatically with the younger generation and there are now only approximately 30 people continuing with this trade. As copper has disappeared from our kitchens, it is mainly for the tourist industry these skilled craftsmen ply their trade.

We set out to wander around and of course with three women that meant straight into the workshops.
We looked around at the amazing workmanship at the array of goods on display. We also got talking to the craftsmen who were only to happy to display their talent and tell us about the process. It takes a full day to make one çaydanlık

Mary and I were like children in a sweetshop but almost afraid to ask the prices. We were totally taken aback when we did. 40 lira for a çaydanlık, 50 for a large copper serving dish. These men are working in the wrong place, if this was Ireland you would have to quadruple the price at least for work of this standard.

We thanked our lucky stars we weren't flying Ryanair and got to down to serious 

Mary and I did serious damage to the holiday budget and spent just over 100 lira each.
We had by now worked up an appetite and needed to eat.

We asked for advice on where to go and we were guided to a pide salonu.
After a delicious lunch, we asked for the bill only to be told that they had been told by the copper smith not to take our money, lunch was on him.

What a first introduction to Turkey for Julia, her mouth is still hanging open.

We then walked around the town, the mosque is beautiful inside, well worth a visit.

We then met an 80 year old who wanted to be our tour guide. I think he fancied his chances with the three women.

Everywhere we went we were welcomed and the work explained to us with time courtesy and patience. The number of craftsmen is decreasing and one told us that he reckons there will be none of them left  in 10 years time. This would be a dreadful pity. As you watch, everywhere you hear the tap tap tap as the craftsmen turn the sheets of copper into pots and pans, teapots and signs. These men employ their passion for their craft to reproduce age old designs. Even though their lives are different , they employ the same patience and  traditions Even though the day to day use of copper has dwindled, the copper smiths of Kavaklidere are doing everything in their power to keep their tradition that they are so passionate about.

I would strongly recommend a visit to this village. It is such an interesting place to see. I intend to go back again in April. We thought we might be there for an hour but one hour became four.

We then went to visit Metins family in the evening where we were made very welcome and to feel at home. We rounded off the day with a very comfortable stay in the Hurtur Hotel on the Mugla road as you leave Yatagan.

1 comment:

  1. Well I will certainly be going here we have just found Alinda which is on the same Mugla Road Having lived in Turkey for 5 years we are still exploring


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