Edirnekari, an art of wood carving and decorating, which has been carried out by resident craftsmen in the northwestern province of Edirne for nearly 500 years, has been passed down many generations with a master-apprentice tradition.
Halil Teksöz, 56, who started his career as a carpenter’s apprentice and continued as an Edirnekari-master, is one of the few masters who is training young apprentices.
He keeps this art, which became one of the indispensable parts of the Ottoman palace with its unique motifs, by engraving it on paintings, dowry chests and jewelry boxes.
Teksöz, one of the last masters of this art in Edirne, said he made efforts to keep the tradition of Edirnekari alive, to introduce it to people and to raise new apprentices.
Teksöz said Edirnekari’s patterns since the Ottoman Empire have been painted with bristle thin brushes on wood, adding that it took a long time to learn the art.
He only takes four trainees a year in order to teach the art thoroughly.
“I take a limited number of trainees, because this is not an art that can be learned in two or three days,” he said.
He emphasized that Edirnekari, an art that requires finesse, has begun to regain its former reputation with recent works.
“Edirnekari has become more known and been attracting attention nowadays. I was worried and afraid that the art would not go forward,” he said about his worries over the future of the art.
“The important thing here is not to make and sell it, but to teach this enjoyable art and move it to the future. I want the whole world to know about this beauty,” he said.
The 27-year-old Ezgi Kamar, one of the trainees, was impressed by Edirnekari in the workshop where she had come to only get her flute case repaired. Since, she took up the art and has been learning to master it.
She explained that she loved Edirnekari and that she owed a lot to her master.
“Edirnekari is therapeutic to me. I get rid of my stress while drawing and painting the patterns. Art has a very peaceful structure,” Kamar added.
Another trainee, Elif Doğramacı also noted that she has been working hard for three years to learn the art of Edirnekari.
“I think Edirnekari is an art worth experiencing. I aim to learn this art in the best way and carry it to future generations,” Doğramacı said.
Edirne, which was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire for 92 years, still carries cultural and artistic traces of the empire.
The city is just three kilometers from Greece and 17 kilometers from Turkey’s border with Bulgaria.