Protecting Local Heritage
Protecting Local Heritage Project (2016 - 2017)
Project Aims and Objectives
This two year project is funded by the European Union in collaboration with the Büyükkonuk Eco-Tourism Association and the Büyükkonuk Municipality.
The main overall objective is to protect intangible heritage such as Cypriot traditions, rituals, festive events, knowledge and skills associated with the production of traditional crafts and practices concerning nature. The aim being to ensure knowledge and skills are passed down from one generation to the next. This is so important for maintaining cultural diversity and also encourages a mutual respect for others way of life. This leads way to social cohesion which gives a sense of identity and responsibility, and also helps individuals feel part of the community and society at large.
- Establish a theatre and choir group (Büyükkonuk only)
- Establish a folklore dance group for youths and women (Büyükkonuk only)
- Establish an atelier for folklore traditional costume design and production (Büyükkonuk only)
- Create a video documentary capturing intangible cultural heritage
- Building capacities of youths and adults in traditional Cypriot crafts (Karpaz rural area)
- Atleast 200 people have been informed about the project via stakeholder meetings
- Atleast 450 people from the local community have participated in capacity building workshops
- 200 people from the local community folklore, choir and theatre groups have performed at experience sharing events
- 44 people have performed in a folklore competition in Europe sharing Cypriot culture and traditions with other European countries
On May 13th 2016, the project was launched to the Karpaz rural area in Büyükkonuk. More than 200 people attended this event which was opened by the President of the Büyükkonuk Eco-Tourism Association Kıymet Alibey. Kıymet explained about all the different free activities that would be open to the communities. Representatives from the EU, Agustin Moya-Colorado and Müge Hürkal were in attendance and explained what a valuable opportunity has been given to learn new skills and socialise amongst the different communities. The Community Mayor Ahmet Sennaroğlu reinforced the importance of passing these traditions down to our future generations.
People from the communities were invited to register for the different activities and were given more information about the workshops. Traditional food was provided and the local youth folklore dance group performed. The children were invited to create colourful pictures about the nature and wildlife here in Cyprus.
It was an extremely successful and positive event, people left feeling excited about the prospect of attending the different workshops and the opportunity to learn something new.
Sesta - is a technique using wheat straw to make trays, bread baskets and other small items for the home and kitchen. They are colourfully decorated with traditional motives using purple, orange, green and red dyed stalks. The trays are very useful in the kitchen to carry bread to and from the oven, to hold fruit or just to decorate your walls. These can also be used to make an impromptu table on an overturned chair.
Broom Making - Wild thyme is gathered to make the sweep part of the broom, for the handle a forked olive branch is cut. Next fresh şinya bark is used for binding the broom together. The thyme is first beaten with a wooden hammer to flatten it, then it is divided into two pieces. The binding is then wound around the thyme to fasten it to the handle.
Chair Weaving- Firstly the rush must be cut into thin strips. Then the rush is soaked so that it is easy to twist. Several rushes are twisted together so they can be bound onto the frame.
Cheese Baskets - These baskets are made with a reed found in marshy areas such as Güzelyurt and Girne. The baskets are used when making traditional hellim cheese. The cheese is pressed into the basket enabling the curds to solidify.
Spinning and Weaving - Wooden spindles are used to spin wool fleece into yarn. Using a small wooden tapestry frame students will learn to weave a small project such as shoulder bag using traditional Cypriot motifs.
Date Palm Baskets - Date palm leaves can be used to weave baskets.
Sewing Atolier (Büyükkonuk only) - Sewing machines will be purchased so the community can learn to make traditional folklore costumes made with handwoven materials. These costumes will be showcased at the performance sharing events conducted throughout the project and at a folklore event held in Europe. Hand sewing techniques will also be taught, using Cypriot motifs.
English Classes - The main focus of this class to have fun and learn how to hold basic conversations in English. Each week the teachers prepare engaging topics that are relevant and useful to help with students everyday lives and business needs.
Theatre Class - In this class students will learn basic acting and voice control techniques. Lessons will progress to teach traditional Cypriot dialect, history customs and traditions. The group will then perform in four performance sharing events over the next year with one final, grand performance at the Social Festival at the end of the project.
Choir and Music - There are two choir groups one for youths and children the other for adults. Similar to that of a "glee club" locals can come together to learn traditional Cypriot songs, in traditional Cypriot dialect. The group will then perform in four performance sharing events over the next year with one final, grand performance at the Social Festival at the end of the project.
New musical instruments have been purchased as part of this project. This gives students an appreciation of the different traditional folklore instruments and a chance to try them. The initial lessons are violin appreciation then the lesson will progress to flutes, large and small drums, the accordion and small percussion instruments.
Folkdance - Three folkdance groups have been established, one for children, one for youths, and one for adult women. Each of the groups will be taught the art of Cypriot folk dance and learn dances associated with the Cypriot culture. The groups will then perform in four performance sharing events over the next year with one final, grand performance at the Social Festival at the end of the project.
Nature and Eco-Tourism -These workshops for the most part will be taken outside with some classroom lectures. Students will learn how to guide a nature walk, learn about local history, archeology, plants, wildlife and eco-tourism. There will be lectures on bio-diversity, conservation and waste management. There will be bird watching walks, identifying bird species, learning about migration, bird protection and nesting boxes.
2016 - 2017 Workshop Training Schedule
Listed above is the schedule for workshops over for the coming year. Please note that this schedule is subject to change, if you are interested in attending any of the workshops please contact the project team.
Workshop Training Progress
In the first class the students learn where the material can be found in the wild and how it should be harvested. The next step is cutting it into even sized strips in preparation for it being soaked so it can be twisted. Along with weaving this was the most popular course. Many of the women were intrigued to learn this skill as it is predominantly seen as a profession that only men can do. As the course progressed they soon began to realise their own potential and took great pride in learning the technique and perfecting their weaving to match the professional version. It was great to see the camaraderie amongst the group and how those more adept were able to help those who were struggling. On completion of their first project (a small stool) they progressed to bringing in old chairs and stools from home.
Abdullah Çerkez the trainer was very pleased to see so many ladies interested in learning this skill. He said, "I thought this skill may be difficult for the ladies as it requires strength; I am amazed with the results they have produced on their first attempt".
Fatma Er Yıldız one of the students said, " When I went home I showed the chair to my husband it made me feel strong that I was able to do a job that normally only a man can do"!
One of the attendees has learning difficulties, she has grown in confidence since attending these classes with her mother, she explained, "This is so good for me, I feel more confident, I have managed to make a chair on my own, I know I can try anything now"!
Kemal Devici the trainer explained about the best material to use for making brooms and where they can find it in the wild. This was an extremely popular course and one attended by many children. Firstly, the group were given training on how to make a small sized hand broom that they could then go on to decorate and use as a wall hanging. Using a wooden mallet, wild thyme is flattened and separated into two pieces to make the sweep part of the broom. For the handle a forked branch is cut. Next, fresh tenebrinth bark is used for binding the broom together. The binding is wound around the thyme to fasten it to the handle. Some of the ladies also progressed onto a larger version that can be used for sweeping outside. On the last day of the course the group went out to collect and make more brooms, traditional Cypriot food was cooked on a campfire, great fun was had by all.
Kemal Devici said, "I loved that so many people were excited about this class, and that some even went out to find their own extra materials, they have been a great group to work with".
Date Palm Weaving
Date palms are protected in Cyprus, they are important because historically date palm baskets were used for loading and unloading cargo from ships. In these classes date palm leaves (as a result of regular pruning) were softened in water and braided and then stitched together into basket shapes. This is another skill which is known by only a few of the older generation. It was encouraging to see such an interest in this craft. One of the ladies from the group has since gone on to create many more baskets so that she can start to sell them at the local markets and festivals.
Sesta is a traditional tray made using wheat straw. It can also be made into baskets for bread and other small items for the home and kitchen. They are colourfully decorated with traditional motives using purple, orange, green and red dyed stalks. The trays are very useful in the kitchen to carry bread to and from the oven, to hold your fruit or just to decorate your walls. These can also be used to make an impromptu table on an overturned chair.
It was encouraging to see a mixture of age groups attending these classes. Initially, students learned the technique by first making a small circular project with plain stalks. Later they progressed to small baskets using the different colours and different patterns. Creativity was in abundance, for many this was a new skill especially those from Yeni Erenköy and Dipkarpaz. In Dipkarpaz the ladies thought of new ways to create souvenirs for tourists and a new sesta necklace was inspired as a result (as shown here in the picture).
Cheese Basket Making
These baskets are made with a reed found in marshy areas such as Güzelyurt and Girne and are used when making traditional hellim cheese. The cheese is pressed in the basket enabling the curds to solidify. A single reed can also be used to make the hole in homemade macaroni. The reeds with flowers on are used to make small brooms which women use to sweep their homes with. Students are first given information on where to find the material and how it needs to be prepared before it can be used. Then they were shown the technique for completing the base of the basket. Next they learned how to weave around a bottle to help mould and maintain the shape of the basket. Even one of the local men came to learn and join in!
Once the technique was learnt the ladies started creating larger baskets as they thought they would make perfect bread baskets. Later small brooms were created with the reed with small flowers on. The Mayor of Dipkarpaz wife said "This is a really good way to learn and pass down old traditions, this is a much better option than just sitting at home all day"!. The ladies expressed interest to continue practicing this craft.
Spinning and Weaving
In the spinning class they learnt how to prepare and clean wool fleece. Then using a traditional spindle learned how to spin the yarn. In the weaving class students learned different weaving techniques using traditional Cypriot motifs. Their first project was to make a small piece that could be made into a bag or a hanging ornament. This is a skill that is fast diminishing it was good to see so much interest in learning these techniques.
In Büyükkonuk Fatman Er Yıldız started by first teaching the ladies how to create the weft by winding string up and down the nails on the frame. The ladies often want to 'run before they can walk', they get so excited and want to learn intricate patterns before learning the basic stitches. This class really encourages the social aspect of learning together, they began envisualising how they could put these new found skills into a way to make themselves money.
Düriye one of our most committed course attendees is 75 years old and loves coming to chat with the ladies. She has been partipating in the ladies groups for over 30 years and has lots of stories and knowledge to share. She has aquired a lot of skills and brought pieces of her work to show the group. This is great as it starts discussion and the ideas start flowing more readily.
The outputs from their first attempts were so amazing that many people at the Büyükkonuk Eco-Day festival wanted to purchase them. The ladies have expressed interest in continuing this skill and making more pieces that they can sell.
Different sewing techniques were taught using hoops for cross stitch and free form embroidery. The villagers were encouraged to create pictures using traditional Cypriot motifs. It is hoped that the village women can innovatively use these motives to embelish dresses, shirts and childrens' wear for tourists, as well as table cloths, tray cloths and curtains.