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Love That Comes From Wire: Telkari
We can say that Telkâri is like a type of needlework or lacework using gold or silver wires, as thin as hair. It is the finest area of the art of jewelry. The ornaments that
take different shapes in the capable hands of the masters take you to a dreamland.
The elegance of artwork shaped with the Telkâri technique, the ornaments and accessories that flow like a bride’s veil, add color to one’s life with its splendor and style. It is sometimes a present for a precious moment or for a special occasion, sometimes a memoir of mother, grandmother or another beloved family member that is passed from generation to generation; it is a historical embroidery. The Telkari design can commonly be found on cigarette holders, tobacco boxes, cup holders, trays, belts, hair pins and mirrors. Almost every ornament imaginable has been made using the Telkâri technique.
If you look up the meaning of Telkâri, it is defined as a form of art using wires. Tel in Turkish means “wire,” whereas kâr means “profit”; hence the name Telkâri. Telkâri is the art of making ornaments using thin wire. Telkâri is also known as vav work, derived from the Arabic letter vāv, whose shape is often applied as a motif in the Telkâri designs.
This form of jewelry making art, which mostly uses gold or silver, has a distinct place in traditional metallurgy. According to archaeological findings, it is assumed that the Telkâri method has been used in Mesopotamia since 3,000 BC and in Anatolia since 2,500 BC. The birth place of and place of existence for Telkâri, which has developed especially in the Southeastern Anatolia in the 15th Century has been Mardin and its county Midyat. Nowadays, grand masters of the art of Telkâri, as in all other handicrafts, try to keep their art alive by transferring it to following generations. They accept the difficulties and felicities of their works, and are content in knowing the great secret of their efforts.
A Telkâri master produces his own wire from pure metal or calculated alloys, according to his requirements. Cast metals pass through wide to narrow holes that are lined up on steel columns. The wires are thinned with a combination of time, patience and force. The wire that is fed through the wider side of the mill is pulled from the other end and constantly thinned. The steel wires that are 1 or 0.5 mm in diameter at the beginning of this tiring process are processed until their diameters are reduced to 0.25 mm. After the wires are connected to one another one by one, their designs and compositions are completed. Then the completed works are cleaned, polished and put through an oxidization process, not long before they are ready to be placed in the hands of eager buyers. The Telkâris adopt the refinement of their humble masters. Despite all the efforts given and time spent for producing these wire needle works, since there are no flat surfaces for applying their signatures, these works are completed without any signature on them. For this reason, it is almost impossible to identify the name of the masters. The master cannot risk harming the work that he has spent so much time and effort in producing, even to mark his name on it; he, the anonymous master, is satisfied with the completion of yet another master piece.