Barbara Blankenship © 2007

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As a crazy quilter, the Internet has proven to be an invaluable tool. I have at my fingertips an entire realm of shopping potential, instructions and, most importantly, the opportunity to meet friends from all over the world. In 2005 I organized a project for children suffering from HIV/AIDS - many of you will remember Sleep with the Angels. I had a wonderful email from Rengin Yazitas offering to make a block and from there our friendship began. Rengin lives in Istanbul, Turkey.

Rengin graciously agreed to help with another project the following year. When I received her block, it was embellished with the most beautiful needlework flowers I had ever seen. I had to have those flowers among my embellishments and I wanted to learn how to make them myself. I never accomplished the later, but I do have many among my collection. In this article I would like to introduce you to the "Oya" - an ancient Turkish needleart.  

Designed by Rengin Yazitas
for the 2006 A Way to Women’s Wellness (WTWW) wall hanging.

There is no synonym for Oya in any other language proving that this needleart is done only by Turkish societies. Studies of sample Oyas found on the Mentiz coast in 1905 confirmed their origin to the year 2000 BC. Inspired by nature, these beautiful flowers have their own mysterious language.

Women of all ages conveyed their love, their expectations, their resentments, and their incompatibility with their husbands to those around them simply by the lace they wore. An engaged girl would send a piece of lace-edged printed cloth to her prospective mother-in-law. If it is "meadow and grass" lace it implies their relations are cordial. On the other hand, if it is "gravestone" lace, it means there is a coldness between them that will last until death. By tradition, the mother-in-law would wear this to the wedding ceremony thus showing all the wedding guests how the new daughter-in-law felt about her.

A new bride unhappy with her husband wears "pepper lace" on her head. Women reaching 40 would wear a bent tulip. Yellow daffodil lace worn around the head declared a hopeless marriage. When a husband went abroad to work, his wife would wear wild rose lace around her head. These examples are just a few among many passed from generation to generation. Not only are Oyas exquisite in their beauty but they speak a language understood by Turkish society.

Pictured below are several of the different Oya designs.

Modern technology has replaced many of our old art forms and the same is true with the Oya. The new generations are not interested and it is feared that the Oya will soon be forgotten by time.

At present, the Oyas are still being made and sold. Rengin Yazitas has made these available and you will be able to purchase this beautiful needlework by contacting her. She has many beautiful designs and colors along with the scarves.
Email Rengin for more information



Turkish Airlines Publication (November, 2004)
"Kind of Oyas and Embroidery Technique" by Taciser ONUK, Publisher: T. Is Bankasi Cultural Publication, ISBN 975-458-008-01
"The Beaded Balikesir Oya" by Sevgi Senol

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