Even today centuries after the tradition began. baskets continue to bring traditional colour and practicality into our hobies of all the traditional handcrafts practiced throughout the ages by Turkish Cypriots, basket weaving is one of the most important. Wickerwork plays an iniportant role in the island`s life style with examples of this art frrsn appearing all over Northern oprus. The variety of shapes. sizes, and designs reflect the functions to which the finished products are put.
Wicker baskets were of greatest use to those who worked on the land and it was for peasant farniers that the first baskets were produced Farmers used the basket primarily for carrying agricultural produce and would, according to their needs, place their orders with the craftsmen.
Baskets all sizes are still being used in the village for the carrying of harvested olives, almonds, grapes, and potatoes.
In the predominantly maquis clad region of the Karpaz, where olive and carob production is the most prevalent form if agricultural production, wicker baskets are commonly seen strapped onto the backs of donkeys for the carrying of heavy loads of harvested crops.
While the world has advanced in so many ways, and new technologies have replaced the old, the wicker basket has kept its place in Cypriot life as an aesthetically pleasing and, above-all highly practical device. We therefore thought it might be interesting, and perhaps usefull, for us to learn some of the finer points of her trade.
The main raw material used in basket weaving is, of course, bamboo, and selecting the best bamboo is an important part of the weavers skill It is vital that the bamboo to he used is mature. Most bamboo grows on riverbanks, and once it has been Collected it is taken in bundles to where it will be made into baskets. The materials collected the previous day and had been Weaned and laid out to dry. Each cane had been split into frur strips lengthwise, and in order to prevent them snapping during the weaving process they were regularly sprinkled with water.
The first steps toward actually making the basket involve the base and a skeleton of the superstructure being formed and connected to one another. The skeleton is constructed from single strips of the split bamboo. Weaved between the skeleton are thinner strips of mature hamboo. To complete the base, the emerging basket is turned upside down and weaving begins from the outside inwards.
The number of basket weavers decreases with every passing year. The individual craftsmen are important because each one has his or her own style. When one dies or stops weaving, his or her style dies too.
By bending together two parts of the frame that had till now remained free from the main body if the basket, a bridge-like structure is formed which gradually evolves into a handle.
In the past baskets were produced solely for the carrying of agricultural produce. In recent years the number of uses to which hey can be employed has increased In particular one sees them at weddings and other ceremonies where they are used to present small tokens of gratitude to guests. They are also often used as cat and dog baskets, and also feature as decoration in homes, restaurants, and other places if entertainment. In short, many forms of this traditional Cypriot handcraft can be seen performing host of different functions all over the island.