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  • Writer's pictureNOA


Finding Niyazi amca and his beautiful braids turned out to be not that easy. We drive to the south-east of Turkey, to Antakya and wonder through villages, alleys and houses - to find out that he is not there today, but has driven into town for a doctor's appointment. Just before I'm finally ready to give up, surrender to my fate and realize that not every wish in life can be fulfilled, we learn that Niyazi amca's daughter-in-law is here. She is ready to receive us and show us the baskets and bowls.

Fatma teyze turns out to be a cozy, sweet woman who loves to talk - unless the camera is on. She just wants to say something before she remembers: "Will you also record my voice?" but also for sale in order to be able to finance other wishes with the proceeds. "I sold them to my father-in-law at the time," she says, "who would have thought that I would later marry his son!" and laughs.

I learn that the bowls were actually used for everyday purposes in the past and were used in many different ways: as sieves for bulgur, for washing vegetables or as serving plates on the sofras (floor tables) around which the whole family would gather. They were even used in the preparation of the delicious dessert Kunefe, for which this region of Turkey is known. When roasting, the Künefe was turned between two bowls. And then? "Since most of us didn't have running water at home, we washed the bowls outside at fountains and in bowls and hung them on the wall of the house to dry," says Fatma teyze. A little light has dawned on me: what is being rediscovered today as wall decoration in Istanbul's houses used to come about here out of a need. Colorful bowls with patterns and motifs hung on the houses in the village to dry and made life a little more lively and beautiful.

Meanwhile, night has fallen and while I'm still in the process of selecting the bowls for NOA, something happens that no one expected: Niyazi amca comes in the door with his wife! "I've already heard that you're here," he says happily in greeting. He is a proud 85 years old and has experienced a lot. The art of weaving has a very essential value for his life.

You want to know what meaning braiding has for Niyazi amca and learn more about him and Fatma teyze? Follow us on Instagram and don't miss any videos and posts about her.

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