Sunday, August 21, 2011

OYA: the secret language of Turkish women.


So theres no doubting that I'm an Oya Lace fanatic, and I want to know everything there is to know about it.  I guess having a Turkish partner is a big 10 points to me, especially when I get him to call his mother every 5 minutes to ask her questions.  I'm not saying I'm anything like an expert or anything, however I think I know enough now to divulge more information about this almost lost art. 

We've all gone through google typing in words we dont know the meaning of to find more about this artform, however all I ever came across was "meadow grass is good, tombstone is bad"  keeping in mind that these oyalar have probably stayed in the time when they were most popular; when Turkish women were basically bored with no TV and open to a good bitch session with the neighbours about how their husbands had pissed them off for not chopping enough wood or something.

So I've put together my knowledge of this artform to extend to you for you to now know like I do, and to save yourselves all the trouble of contacting people you dont know trying to learn something that nobody is willing to teach (sadly.)  So we know the basics of Oya, it has a knot, and is done with a needle- but I intend to go further than that some lets begin...

OYA USES:For personal use: as an embellishment, as jewellry, on head scarves, as bracelets, as neck scarves, on dresses, handkerchief edgings and  various prayer items.
In homes: Table cloths, doilies, other home decor such as: bed sheet edgings, towel edgings, knapsack edgings, pillow edgings.
Other uses: Wall hangings, decorations, on top of doors, in vases, in a frames,treasury boxes: items for the new brides home, henna glove edgings, edgings on anything really.

So as we can see, Oya definately has a broader spectrum than one might first think.

TYPES OF OYA: Needle (igne oyasi) employs a needle and usually nylon thread.  Knots are made to form 2D and 3D oya.  This is deemed to be the hardest of all the Oya groups, as the loops that are made need to be the same size to ensure the work is not lop sided.
Shuttle (mekik oyasi) Easier than needle, but harder than hook, I was told by my partners mother that one wouldn’t make overtly large motifs with a shuttle due to inconvenience. A shuttle (or 2) is used to make knots and chains which form the motifs that are sewn onto the item.
Hook (tig oyasi), with crochet hook that is small, often .6 or .7 is used. Some of the motifs have multiple yarn overs and then the empty spaces are filled. More often than not the motifs made with a crochet hook are either made by making a chain first and then completing the motif, or doing the chain and motif together, or completing the chain last.  Beads, sequins, rings may be also employed in this oya.
Hairpin (firkete oyasi) can employ beads or sequins. When the lace has been completed another form of oya  (usually crochet or shuttle) may form the last row.
Cocoon (koza oyasi)  Very rare.  This oya employs either hook or needle, and sometimes they dye the cocoon to suit the colour of the item, apparently extremely difficult.
Wax (mum oyasi)  Very rare.  Motifs are made out of coloured wax and are mostly done for the head of a bride on her wedding day.
Wool (yun oyasi)  Very rare.  To give shape to this oya, glue or wire may be used.
Cloth (kumas oyasi)  Pieces of fabric are cut and usually crocheted onto a scarf.
Bead (boncuk oyasi) May be made with either 4 of the main oyas (needle, hook, shuttle, hairpin)
Sequins (pul oyasi) Is usually made with needle, hook or hairpin.

What oya means what:A bride before marries sends to her mother in law “meadow grass” (cayir cimen)
it means we’ll get along well and peacefully like meadow grass.

If a bride wasn’t happy or content with her mother in law she wears killi kurt (hairy worm)

If shes not happy with her mother in law she sends gravestone oya (mezar tasi) and it means that
their animosity will continue until death.

If a wife cant get along with either husband or mother in law she wears chilli oya (biber oyasi) to
signify we are as hot as chilly, we’re fiery.

Sycamore leaves (cinar yapragi) means the wish of long life and wisdom to whoever the scarf is given to.

Portakal Cicegi (orange flower) being next to an orange at the same time it refers to birth and death,
or being young/mature.

Zilli masa (bells) Anonymous kind of oya, it symbolizes the people who are ill tempered and tend to
fight, its believed to chase bad temper away.

Carkifelek (wheel of fortune) a woman who has divorced due to unhappiness.

Kutule oyasi (Wild flower ) after wedding ceremony its given to the sister in law to symbolize the wish of their relationship resembling a flower.

Sumbul oyasi (hyacinth) Hope love and virginity.

Kaynana dili (mother in laws tongue) a mother in law who talks alot and in a harsh manner

Otel odasi (hotel room) Signifies the hospitality of the Turkish people

Cakir Dikeni (Burdock) A bride will give this oya to her mother in law signifying not to prick her like a thorn

Bamya Cicegi (Okra Blossom) Symbol of virginity and beauty

(Theres alot more than this but these ones my partners mother has told me about)

Motifs used in OYA:
Vegetal motfis: flowers leaves, trees, fruit
Geometric Motifs: squares, triangles, lines, etc
Abstract motifs: signs, symbols
Nature motifs: mountains, hills, sun, moon, rocks
Figurative Motifs: birds, butterflies, fingers, hands, eyes

-I hope the following information has been of some help.


Unknown December 14, 2016 at 11:56 AM

I have just returned from turkey and fell in love with the jewelry the woman there make with this technique!
I am looking to learn \ hopefully maybe teach myself.
Do you have any pointers ? ... also where do you recommend buying the lace to make items??

Also thank you for this blog! I have been scouring the internet and information on this is so hard to find !

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