The Kizilirmak or Red River is the longest river in Turkey and its flood plain around Avanos has been home to potters since crockery was invented. It has been such an important tradition that no family would give their daughter as a bride to a boy from Avanos if he couldn’t throw a pot! There are a number of excellent workshops in the area that give wonderful presentations on the red clay tradition and designs as well as the more modern white clay plate production, and you will also see the detailed hand painting of the artists. After watching the demonstration, you can even throw your own pot while kicking the wheel with your foot, an ancient technique derived from the Hittites.
If every boy in Avanos could throw a pot, every girl could make a rug; traditionally the parents’ idea of a marriage made in heaven! The local rug making tradition is still alive and well, so bring the measurements of that carpet you are looking for; who knows you may find it in Cappadocia. While there are many rug shops in tourist areas, it is more interesting to visit a carpet cooperative where you can join the ladies making the carpets and have a go yourself. You will also be shown around to learn about the wool dying techniques, silk making process, and examples of the traditional designs from each Turkish region. It’s a fascinating cultural visit, even if you don’t want to buy.
The art of Ebru or Turkish Marbling was developed in the Ottoman period, so tulips and carnations are common motifs. The artist has a tray of sticky liquid on which oily paints float. These colours are gently brushed into a pattern and when paper contacts the surface the design is transferred seemingly by magic. In Cappadocia you can try this art for yourself and take home an easy–to–carry souvenir. Ebru is such an important cultural heritage for both Turkey and the world that it is listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List
Turkey has a rich and varied geology that produces a variety of gemstones, onyx and meerschaum. Onyx workshops specialize in semi-precious stones, both the raw variety as well as various gems which are set in both traditional and modern style gold and silver. Other knick-knacks include decorative meerschaum pipes and onyx ornaments. You can even find hand made decorative copper plates.