Protecting Local Heritage
Protecting Local Heritage Project (Project launched 13th May completed 30th June 2017 )
This one and a half year project was funded by the European Union implemented by the Büyükkonuk Eco-Tourism Association and supported by the Büyükkonuk community office.
The main overall objective was 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. Encouraging 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/ Komi Kebir only)
- Establish a folklore dance group for youths and women (Büyükkonuk/ Komi Kebir only)
- Establish an atelier for folklore traditional costume design and production (Büyükkonuk/ Komi Kebir only)
- Create a video documentary capturing intangible cultural heritage
- Building capacities of youths and adults in traditional Cypriot crafts (Karpaz rural area/ Karpasia)
- At least 200 people have been informed about the project via stakeholder meetings
- At least 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/Karpasia rural area in Büyükkonuk/ Komi Kebir. 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 the area so that they can 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 and prizes were awarded.
It was an extremely successful and positive event, people were left feeling excited about the prospect of attending the workshops and the opportunity to learn different skills and to meet new friends.
The workshop schedule was planned to commence in September 2016 until June 2017, a training schedule was created and then communicated to the communities via ladies community group meetings. An advertisement was posted in the local paper to attract local craftspeople to apply for the teaching positions available. During June - July 2016 candidates were called for interview, they were asked a series of questions which were scored independantly by a selection committee from the Büyükkonuk Eco-Tourism Association and the Büyükkonuk community office. Scores were verified and totalled, the committee members each gave feedback in terms of how they came to their scoring decision. The roles were appointed to those who amounted the highest score in interview.
All the teachers were given briefings on how to complete paperwork in line with EU procedures and standards and what was required in terms of objectives and outputs. For many of the teachers this was the first time they had to use social media to promote workshops in their area. Communication developed and strengthened between teachers and the project team as the workshops progressed. Photographs were taken to show visibility of activities and progress updates. It has been evident to see how confidence has grown in some of the teachers, this has been reflected through attendance levels and outputs achieved from the classes.
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. Small tools are used to make holes through the structure so that more wheat stalks may be added. 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. Initially the groups were taught using plain stalk to learn the technique. The first project was to create a small coaster type object. In Dipkarpaz/ Rizokarpasso there was great interest and attendance from children. Although children are taught vocally about the different traditional crafts in school many have never experienced touching nor using the raw materials. It was lovely to see how mothers and children bonded together during these sessions. This group really thought 'outside the box' in how they could adapt this traditional craft to make souvenirs for tourists and visitors; little necklaces were created as a result. In the next lessons they progressed to more complicated projects. Some made baskets whilst others made larger trays. They got very creative with making the different designs using coloured wheat stalks. The outputs from the classes were displayed at our performance sharing events, Europe Day and at our social festival we had many requests from visitors to purchase the work because it was so good. This craft is definitely one which will continue amongst the communities and children in particular.
The teachers who taught sesta:
Ayşegül Küçükkaya from Büyükkonuk (Komi Kebir) a housewife who has gained expertise in sesta in particular, she has a small room in her house dedicated to this craft. This has been a particularly rewarding experience working on this project for Ayşegül. It was a great opportunity for her to meet different women from the local community and share her skills in this area. She enjoys helping children learn this skill including her own grandchildren.
Fatma Er Yılmaz from Sipahi (Agia Trias)- Fatma is an active teacher at the Bemsa Culture centre in Yeni Erenköy (Yialousa), she has been volunteering her teaching services for the last 30 years. She has vast experience in traditional handcrafts such as sesta, tapestry, wood carving, sewing, Lefkara embroidery, Lapta embroidery, chair binding and lace making. Fatma sells her silk worm cocoon pictures to the Büyük Han in Lefkoşa which is made popular for selling local hand crafts to tourists and locals alike. She has really enjoyed her experience working on this project and enjoys the challenge of improving herself.
Emine Özbayrak from Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpasso) - Emine runs a small guest house called Revaklı Guest house in the beautiful village of Dipkarpaz. She delights her guests with homemade Cypriot cuisine and hospitality. She has been running the local women's group for 5 years and is skilled in wood carving, sewing, chair binding, sesta, tapestry, and Lefkara embroidery. She encourages the group to create innovative ideas for producing souvenirs and products for tourists and visitors in the area. Emine is passionate about keeping these traditions alive especially by encouraging children and young people to learn these skills.
Broom Making - Kemal Deveci 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 materials to make more brooms, traditional Cypriot food was cooked on a campfire, great fun was had by all.
Kemal Deveci from Kaleburnu (Galinoporni) - Kemal started working as a shepherd boy during this time his grandfather and father taught him the art of broom making. Kemal has made brooms for over 40 years now. He was also instrumental in restoring an old school building into a cultural museum. Over time he has collected many artifacts, including kitchen items, old family photos, bridal gowns, traditional costumes, and instruments. These items now have pride of place in the museum and give youngsters the opportunity to see how life was in the 'olden days'. This also inspired him to create a continuation of this museum in his own home.
Kemal is also a talented flute player, he makes the instruments himself using bamboo and sells them all over Cyprus. He started to enter local competitions which led to him performing in his own concert. Because Kemal has a wealth of knowledge on Cypriot culture and traditions he was asked to start his own television programme with Ada TV 9 years ago. Every Saturday Kemal's programmes are broadcasted from different villages and events from around Cyprus and fairs abroad.
Kemal is really famous all over Cyprus his name is synonymous with Cypriot culture.
Kemal Deveci 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".
Chair Weaving - In the first class the students learned where the material can be found in the wild and how it should be harvested. The next step involved cutting it into even sized strips in preparation for it being soaked so it can be twisted. Along with broom making 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 from Girne (Kyrenia) - Abdullah left primary school at 12 years old then went on to become an apprentice with Hüseyin a master craft maker in Lefkoşa (Nicosia). Since then he has continued to practice this craft. He sells his chairs to locals and expats. He is one of six people that know and continue this craft, they are the last in this generation.
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"!
Cheese Baskets - These baskets are made with a reed found in marshy areas such as Güzelyurt (Morphou) and Girne (Kyrenia) and are used when making traditional hellim cheese. The cheese is pressed in the basket enabling the curds to solidify and the cheese to be moulded. 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 along 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.
Sonay Uzun from Büyükkonuk (Komi Kebir) -
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 have expressed interest to continue practicing this craft.
In Büyükkonuk (Komi Kebir) Fatma 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 encouraged 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 participating 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.
Fatma Er Yıldız taught the ladies in Yeni Erenköy (Yialousa) and Büyükkonuk (Komi Kebir) and Emine Özbayrak taught the ladies in Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpasso).
Lizzie Bannister from England taught classes in Büyükkonuk (Komi Kebir) and in Yeni Erenköy (Yialousa). Lizzie is an experienced, English teacher and has a fun, engaging, and interactive approach to teaching. Each week Lizzie broke down the classes into small relevant topics and focused on building on the ladies confidence levels and vocabulary. In order to sustain the progress made the ladies intend to have weekly phone calls to each other where they will practice speaking English.
Lizzie said "I have been amazed by the women's perseverance and eagerness to develop their English conversational skills. It has been a pleasure to be involved in such a rewarding project".
Marion Buckmueller taught the group in Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpasso) and like Lizzie focused on topics relevant to their everyday lives and needs. Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpasso) has many guest houses so learning English was especially important for them. Both children and adults benefited from attending the classes. After the lessons finished Marion and the group have committed to meeting once a month to have breakfast together and to speak in English to ensure what they have learned is not lost.
Theatre Class - The Kemal Tunç theatre group was set up in September 2016, the aim of this group was to encourage adults and youths to learn about Cypriot culture through drama.
Ertaç Hazer the theatre teacher started by teaching acting techniques such as voice control and how to be confident in front of an audience. The group learnt the Cypriot dialect and the history behind Kemal Tunç plays who was a local known playwright. As a group they worked together to create their own sketches based on his work. They have performed at several different events across the area to showcase their efforts.
Ertaç Hazer from Lefkoşa (Nicosia) is and experienced actor who has worked in film, radio and television both in Cyprus and the United States. He has previous experience of teaching acting to different groups. Ertaç was delighted that he could share his acting skills and knowledge to help benefit this project.
Choir and Music - The choir group formed in September 2016, Buğçe the choir and music teacher's aim was to educate about the Cypriot culture by resurrecting and teaching old and forgotten folklore songs. Buğçe taught the group how to breathe properly and to project voices clearly using Cypriot dialects. It was amazing to see how confidence levels have grown from their first practices to their last performance at the closing ceremony on the 30th June, 2017. The lessons were preparing the group to perform at several festivals across the region with a grand performance in the Former Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The choir group incorporated song and sketch together which delighted the audiences.
New musical instruments have also been purchased as part of this project, including violins, flutes, drums, percussion and an accordion. This gave students an appreciation of the different traditional folklore instruments and a chance to try them. Violin lessons were given to a group of students ranging from 8 - 40 years old. The majority had never picked up a violin before.
Buğçe Çakır from Gazi Mağusa (Famagusta) has been playing musical instruments since the age of eight. She can play the violin, guitar, piano and accordion. She has performed many recitals both here and abroad. She has recently opened her own music school to continue her teaching work.
Folkdance - Three folkdance groups have been established, one for children, one for youths, and one for adult women.
Nature and Eco-Tourism - In January we held a seminar about eco-tourism Damla Beton provided examples of eco-tourism in different parts of the world and how it compared to the work that we are doing in Cyprus. The session was very interactive so the group were able to express their views and opinions about what is happening in their areas and what could be done to remedy these situations. In February Tuğberk Emirzade provided a seminar on how to guide a nature walk, about local history, archeology, plants, and wildlife in the Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpasso) region. In June we took a large group of people to visit the Society for Protection of Turtles (SPOT) in Alagadi beach.
Damla Beton took the group to see SPOT and also gave a lecture on eco-tourism. She works as a volunteer for Kuşkor an organisation which seeks to protect birds and bird habitats in Cyprus. She is enthusiastic in field studies and is passionate about the conservation and welfare of the different bird species here on the island.
Tuğberk Emirzade has a Bsc in Biology and has done much research here on the island including work with feral donkeys, composting, wetlands, organic farming, and endemic plant species. He provides tourist guided walks across Cyprus, workshops about survival and nature, and seminars on ecology, conservation and the environment.