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As warm as childhood memories Wood
2003 / February

Unlike the big cities, villages awaken to the sounds of nature in the morning and follow the natural rhythm of life, as the sun rises, reaches its highest point at noon, and sinks again. The rustling of the wind through the branches, the singing of the birds, the chattering of the cicadas, the crackling of wood burning in the stove... As the day draws to a close, silence falls over the stones, soil and trees. Light seeps into the navy blue mantle of the night from the wooden shutters of houses that are like the dolls' houses we played with as children. Wooden houses have a way of reviving memories of the past - of childhood friends, games of tipcat, and the smell of popcorn being made over the stove. Perhaps this is why wooden houses always seem warm and friendly, innocent and clean, in a way that no other houses do.

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As warm as childhood memories Wood
2003 / February

Then too nothing can compare to the taste of food cooked over a slowly burning wood fire and eaten with wooden spoons from wooden bowls.

Wood is one of the oldest materials used for building. In every part of Turkey where wood was available in sufficient quantities there are wooden houses dating from earlier centuries, such as the houses influenced by western architecture along the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul and traditional houses in towns such as Safranbolu, Kula and Birgi. With their broad eaves, lattices, bay windows, shutters and carved balustrades, and inside their shelves, fitted cupboards, and fireplace hoods, these houses illustrate the versatility and warmth of wood

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As warm as childhood memories Wood
2003 / February
Throughout the Black Sea region, in particular, wood from its thick forests was the main building material for houses, barns and other outhouses. Then there were the builders that gave life and soul to the timber, their skills and labour making every houses unique. They knew the characteristics of each type of wood, and for which purpose each was best suited. These traditional builders saw trees in a very different light to others. They knew that oak, being dense and durable, is one of the best timbers for façades, whereas beech, with its fine close grain and even texture that make it perfect for interiors, does not wear well when exposed.

Poplar is light and soft, with a fine grain and light figuring. Lime is soft and easily carved but durable.
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As warm as childhood memories Wood
2003 / February

Yet to the uninitiated, Poplar and lime have quite different associations. We remember poplars for their long slender shape and fluttering leaves casting dappled shade and limes for the fragrance of their flowers that are dried for infusions to cure colds and chills.

Wood is used for many other purposes as well as houses, of course. Making sweet scented pearwood bowls is a craft that has almost died out today, just a few craftsmen remaining in the Amasra region.

Boatbuilding is another way that wood takes on new life, and these craftsmen too speak the language of the different timbers that they use. Chestnut is strong and durable, and so used for the hull, ribs and keel, while teak is used for the deck.

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As warm as childhood memories Wood
2003 / February

Teak is used for this purpose all over the world, among other reasons because it is smooth but offers a good grip to naked feet. Poseidon placed the art of working wood for boats into the genes of the Black Sea boatbuilders, and this ancient god of the sea remains their inspiration. In this region life is intertwined with wood. People who depend for their livelihood on the forests live in wooden houses, burn wood for warmth and cooking, and make a myriad artefacts from it. Plastic and metal have hardly entered their lives, which are inseparable from the natural world around them. The creaking sound of the floorboards as they go from room to room caresses their ears. Their babies sleep in wooden cradles, and they carve wooden toys for their children. They have the same inner warmth as the houses they inhabit.

* Hünkar Sibel Görel is a freelance writer.

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