The history of wood carving dates back to the Turks in Central Asia. Wood carving is one of the traditional handicrafts that exist today. Although it might have lost its old functionality, it still continues to be a part of our lives.
Wood is probably the most attractive among decorative materials, and it becomes even more valuable when ornamented with mother of pearl and various decorative shapes in the hands of a capable master. Often we might notice the shutters of an old madrasah as we slurp our hubble bubble, or the beautiful craftsmanship of the door of a magnificent temple might astonish us. Perhaps it is due to the fact that wood is the easiest material to carve in architecture; the finest designs find their way into it.
The wooden furniture that we used to encounter in every stage of our lives, now decorate homes and offices of people that have special interest in them. Wood carving is one of the traditional handicrafts that has a presence in our lives today, despite the fact that it might have lost some of its old functionality. The history of wood carving dates back to the Turks in Central Asia. Turks are known to have produced sculptures and carvings before Islam. After the Turks’ conversion to Islam, Turkestan became the center of this art form. Wood carvings can also be seen in the ornamenting of cultural structures built by the Grand Seljuk.
Moreover, during the Anatolian Seljuk period, although ceramics gained importance in ornaments, wood carvings have not lost their popularity. It is possible to come across some valuable pieces of wood carvings made in this period. Geometric figures were mainly used as decorative motifs during this period.
Samples of carvings, inlaying, paintings, fittings and battening applied on ebony, walnut, apple, pear, cedar, pine and other similar types of wood show the special level that the Seljuks achieved in this form of art.
The variety of wood carvings are displayed in such pieces that have been adorned with flat and embossed inlays, flat surface paintings and embossed painting techniques, and engravings made by the fitting technique.
Pieces ornamented with flat faced deep engravings created by holding the scraper vertical, round faced deep engravings created by free movement of the scraper where care is taken to keep the surface round, and deep engraving with a network of shapes (openwork) that look like lace-work and obtained by engraving the surface deeper and by removing some parts of the base, prove the great skill of the grand wood carving masters.
TRADITION CONTINUES IN MARAŞ
Since the Seljuk period, it is possible to come across this form of art on internal and external façades of architectural works. Altars, pulpits and book stools present in the mosques and tombs are among the most distinct examples. Also, this form of art has widely been used in decorating doors, window frames and lids, as well as articles in the home like dresser drawer sets, mirror frames and chests.
This form of art reached its peaks during the Ottoman period. For years, the most sophisticated samples of wood carving have sprung to life in many articles such as pulpits, book stools, ceiling covers, doors, window frames, carved ornaments, tombstones, fountains, brides’ trunks, closet doors, lamp stools, jewelry boxes, thrones, wooden cradles, and placemats. Stylized forms of plants and animals that incorporate decorative motifs called rumî and hataî have also been used for ornamenting. Wood carving art survives in the hands of the masters in Kahramanmaraş. Articles such as carved dowry trunks, showcases, jewelry boxes, mirror frames, coffee tables, and trays made in this Anatolian province, which is here wood carving has developed the most. The ornaments of a pen holder or a coffee table that we are so often memorized by, portray their very own history, from the point when the wood was just a branch upon which birds would perch.