AN EVENTFUL VISIT TO A TYPICAL WEAVER’S VILLAGE
Through the proceeds from the sale of black-loom produced and hand woven pestemals, I gathered some money together and felt the need to give something back to the community of weavers.
I had several ideas but none really worked out. Fortunately with the help of a friend, who made some inquiries to the City Council of Denizli, we learn about the foundation buldanvakfi.org which supports the local citizens of Buldan. Meryem Salman and four other engaged citizens gave life to the foundation two years ago. Buldanvakfi is a non-governmental organization (NGO), that supports women, young adults and elderly people through education and promoting solidarity. I knew this was the cause I wanted to support.
A FOUNDER STORY
Meryem was born and raised in Buldan and after completing her education in Istanbul and working professionally abroad and locally in Turkey, she decided to spend more time in her home village again for the past couple of years now. She truly understands the mentality and needs of the locals and she connects to the people in her unique, wonderful way. Based on her personal experiences, she felt a strong desire to empower and give something back to her community.
What I also wished for was to personally give something directly to the weavers. I spoke with Meryem at length about an idea that could actually be realized. Deciding wasn’t all that easy, because I wanted the women to have something personal out of it even though I learned that they are not really used to treating themselves. What always works in Turkey is a social get together with nice food. So…
TREAT YOU INVITES THE LOCAL WOMEN WEAVERS FOR BREAKFAST
On a beautiful spring morning in May Meryem helped me organize a breakfast for 17 women weavers in the Geleyli Cafe garden of the Foundation. This turned out to be a really fun and entertaining morning. Lots of lively interactions, tons of laughter and the women were exchanging their experiences about their daily lives, work and whatever else came to mind. For my part, I also had the pleasure to taste some of the local culinary delicacies.
STROLLING THROUGH THE VILLAGE
Food and chitchat done, we made our way through the charming streets of Buldan to visit a few studios where weaving, embroidery and winding are taking place.
In these images is the place where Özlem re-winds the yarns onto larger rolls for manufacturing.
In these images we see a studio, where pestemals and scarves are weaved on the old handlooms, which are still operated by foot pedal.
While the majority of these woman weavers learned their craft at a young age, Fatma discovered weaving later on in life and took a course at a local public school. Her training completed, she began weaving as a hobby and now she enjoys making foulards in her small studio. She wanted to teach me the basics of hand weaving and I must admit, my first time at the loom is not so easy but fun. But I got an in-depth idea about the functioning of the loom and wonderful art of weaving.
Pictured here, motifs are embroidered on bags by an automatic embroidery machine.
To complete this lovely day, we had the privilege to visit a temporary learning studio with several handlooms installed. Courses teaching all aspects of The Art of Hand-Weaving are being taught. These courses are sponsored by an insurance company as part of a corporate social responsibility project. In total 25 women, currently unemployed are involved. The project serves to provide motivation to enjoy learning something new and perhaps, like Fatma, this may lead to a new profession in their lives.
Through this sponsorship this age old art of weaving is passed on and as such is kept alive in modern times. After my blog entry: "Is Turkey losing its centuries-old weaving tradition?"I asked myself if this craft will die out in time. This project makes a direct contribution to preserve this traditional art.
A POSITIVE FOOTNOTE
In the past few months we received a lot of negative news out of Turkey. I am happy to report that based on my experiences, there is positive news coming out of the country. It shows that there are also projects and people who are committed to a better future for women, education and the preservation of traditional hand weaving.