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Igne oyasi. The art of oya

Sat May 24, 2014, 9:00 PM

This entry is only a brief introduction to a craft I recently found: Turkish needlework or the art of oya.

It is native to the town of Nallihan (in the province of Ankara), in the way of the ancient Silk Road, and still remains largely unknown out of Turkish borders. 

Untitled by Beltaneh
Izmir Ethnography Museum (2014)

Younger generations still wear jewellery or accessories decorated with such motives, but the craft itself –as is often the case- has been on the brink of disappearing, now being taught in community centres, trade schools for girls and universities.

Silk thread (3538669893) by Beltaneh
Silk thread by Tony Hisgett, via Wikimedia Commons

Materials used are inexpensive, except perhaps for the silk thread (which does not need to be stiffed), as only straight needle and scissors are required. Nowadays, due to price, cotton and polyester thread are even more common.


Apparently similar to crochet, it is finer than it. Loops and knots are even tinier than in crochet thanks to the use of a straight needle. Square and triangle stitches are the main ones used.


    “The slender waist of my beloved
    He’d be mad not to embrace it
    My bride, you are very happy
    That’s clear from the daisy on your head”


Personally, the most charming aspect of this craft is the fact that it holds its own language of motives and colours:

 “Anatolian woman expresses herself and conveys her thoughts and feelings. Rather than communication what is in her mind with words, she has found different ways to tell her joy, pain, resentment and hope through handicrafts, and worked up a visual language consisting of messages that are sometimes witty and sometimes biting and sarcastic”


A few examples:

Apple blossom: expresses joy and glad tidings. It is given to close relatives and it is worn by newly-married wives who are expecting to proclaim her good news.

Rose: endless love and happiness.

Cornel cherry: worn by women who are suffering but don’t let it show.


Although most motives are natural (flowers, animals), some of them depict human beings. Soldier needlework is worn by women whose husband or children are in the army. A young wife with a husband in the army would be treated with more care and respect.


Motives are designed to be sewn to something else (be it jewellery, kerchief, tablecloth, etc.) and may be distributed on the base at regular intervals (7-8cm; aprox. 2 – 3 inches) or completely cover the base.


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Sense titol by Beltaneh For further information please check

                            Quotes from the language had been taken from here

                            Overview of the technique and current state of the craft

                            Shops – Not sure if they’re selling online

                            Some information about Turkish culture and crafts

                            The Society For Promoting Turkish Handicrafts

My contribution to Artisan Crafts Week 

A big thank you to :iconastrikos: for her wonderful tutorial about (… ) and to :iconcakecrumbs: for her help :)

And of course biggest thanks to my Turkish friend, who helped me gathering all the information Pixel Rose  
Add a Comment:
Astrikos Featured By Owner May 30, 2014   General Artist
Thanks for mentioning my article! :love:

Wonderful article as well! :heart:
Beltaneh Featured By Owner May 30, 2014
Thank you :blush:
Yours was very useful indeed, first time I do not make a (big) mess in
Astrikos Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014   General Artist
Aw thanks! Glad I could be of help!
Nanahuatli Featured By Owner May 27, 2014
I'm so going to try this out. Spread the love.
Beltaneh Featured By Owner May 27, 2014
I've never tried myself, it be great if you could share the link and how to do it :D
Nanahuatli Featured By Owner May 27, 2014
Well, I was planning to do some research first. ;P This is the first time I've heard of oya but it's a lot like the type of craft I like to make.
Icedeb Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This craft is amazing, I didn't know it until now. It's sad to know it's disappearing...
Beltaneh Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
Well... a lot of crafts and traditional trades were on the brink of disappearing (and some still are) in my region. But at least now they're given some vaule and at the very least they are recorded in books and taught at comunity centers or in small workshops during fairs. Even if the actual production has gone totally industrial.

Hopefully the more people knowing it, the longer it will last :)
cakecrumbs Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
Wonderful :clap:
Beltaneh Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
Thank you :) I wasn't so sure at the beginning... ^^
Bansini Featured By Owner May 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank You for introducing us to this lovely craft! :heart:
Beltaneh Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
I'm glad you like it ^^ Thank you for reading 
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May 24, 2014
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