Recently, I have been asked about weaved bracelets from Trabzon. I am glad to be reminded, because this type of wirework belongs to Trabzon only, a city at the northeast Black Sea region of Turkey.
I got in touch with the Chamber of Jewelers in Trabzon. The president of the board, Mr. Nevzat Sakar, kindly sent me some information, including some photographs, to present in my website. Also, I have received the kind permission of Akdin Jewellery to make use of some photographs from their brochure. I translated the information of Mr. Sakar as best as I could.
Jewelry Work in Trabzon
There is no literature on jewelery manufacturing in Trabzon. The information we have about this profession is only the elders’ stories and what connection may be established with other related crafts.
The Tibarens, who were part of Turans, brought metal working to Trabzon and the Elizans metal knitting and weaving. These professions, which continue to this day, form the foundation of jewelry manufacturing in Trabzon.
It is rumored that wire weaving is a Caucasian art. Through the Caucasian Turks, who came to Turkey in the 1870s with the Czarist armies, and who settled in this area after the war, this became a native hand craft.
The first masters of weaving in Trabzon were Haci Mehmet from Dagistan and Ibrahim Horolu from Caucasian Turks which proves that this art comes from Caucasians. The first Turkish woman who weaved the gold lace was Melahat Hanim.
After Sultan Mehmet’s conquest of Trabzon, gold and silver coins were cast with “Trabzon” inscribed thereon. These coins have not survived to our day, but they are remembered in the lore of people. The gold and silver weaving is still continued as a speciality craft of this province. It is not a jewellery manufacturing but feligree product.
After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, the jewellers in this area worked in very primitive conditions and manufactured cast earrings and rings. During that period, jewellery making comprised of amulet receptacles, cups, glasses, candy bowls, filigree ornaments and tray making.
Gold – Silver Weaving Art
The wire is made by first adding copper to fine gold. The fine gold is melted and reduced to 22 karat and formed into sticks. They are drawn to 110 micron and finally to 30 micron. This thin wire is given to the weaver ladies in 10 to15 gram lots. Using a special kind of crochet hook they make 5, 7, 11, 15, or 17 rows of gold weave. After checking for any faults, the finished products are prepared as bracelets, necklaces, etc.
Weaving is entirely hand crafted and there is no machine involved at any stage. In Trabzon today there are 800-1000 woman weavers. Women do this art work as a side job to help the family economy. Twenty years ago this was a good source of livelyhood and there were about 100 ateliers. However, the economical conditions, high workmanship fees, and the weight of a bracelet, (70 to 80grams,) lowered the demand and many of the ateliers closed. Today there are maybe ten to fifteen ateliers which still continue in this fine art.
This art which is particular to Trabzon needs to be protected and supported by the Ministry of Culture. As in other manufacturing one needs to exploit external markets and this requires financial support. The address of Trabzon Chamber of Jewellers:
Trabzon Kuyumcular Odasi, Kunduracilar Cad. Ferit Çarsisi, No.3 Trabzon Türkiye
The weaving art is past from mother to daughter. A woman has to be trained for more then a year by a good master to learn this art. If she is skilled she can be a good weaver in a few years. There are 800-1000 woman weavers in Trabzon today. Women do this art work as a side job to help the family economy.Photo courtesy the Chamber of Jewelers in Trabzon
Weaving is entirely hand crafted and there is no machine involved at any stage. Photo courtesy Akdin Jewellers
The thin wire is given to the weaver ladies in 10-15 gr lots each. Using a special kind of crochet hook they make 5, 7, 11, 15, or 17 rows of gold weave. Photo courtesy Akdin Jewellers
A young weaver is fusing the end of the gold wire using a blowpipe and candle flame after the weaving work is finished.Photo courtesy the Chamber of Jewelers in Trabzon
After checking for any faults, the finished products are prepared as bracelets, necklaces, etc. Weaving just one bracelet takes about 12 days. Photo courtesy Akdin Jewellers
Some finished necklaces made out of Trabzon basket weave work. Photo courtesy Akdin Jewellers
— by Fatma Oya Borahan, GG, FGG www.birdamlasu.com