In Mardin, the Assyrian filigree master has been giving life to filigree for about 67 years. Süphi Yerlihindi received the “Living Human Treasure” award from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, within the scope of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Even if you are dehydrated, let me live this art even if I die… ”, saying that he left them the art of telkari, which is the greatest legacy. Uncle Süphi tells that he is in a relentless struggle in Mardin and Europe to keep the filigree, which has a history of 3 thousand years, alive. In 1974, he left Mardin, his beloved ancient city, and settled in Switzerland. He continues his art here for 23 years. However, his longing for Mardin never ceases. And in 1997, he returned to Mardin with his wife and stated that he was struggling to keep the filigree alive again from where he left off.
The profession devoted to his life for the sake of: Telkari
By revealing all its assets and all kinds of difficulties He cannot control his tears while expressing this love for art with admiration while looking at his filigree that he has made a great example of resistance before him.
It’s easy to think of a lifetime spent on filigree art, which he has handcrafted for 68 years. He says that if I come to this world, he will continue to do the same art. Rightly, trouble is burning and telling us that it hurts. He states that no one has taken steps to keep this profession alive.
There is neither a visitor nor a salute
The Telkari master Süphi Yerlihindi, who has put forth his wealth to keep the art of filigree alive in Mardin, complains about the disloyalty of people. There used to be a loyalty. Your friends, neighbors, and friends would stop by and ask you. Unfortunately, there is no fidelity today. Friendships did not remain. Nobody can ask anyone anymore. Especially during this pandemic, he begins to speak by reproaching, “What comes to you and who salutes?”
When the word “Mardin telkarisi” is mentioned, the first to come to mind is the great master Suphi Yerlihindi.
-How did you start this art as a telkari master?
I learned the art of filigree by starting with my brother at the age of 6. I hadn’t started primary school yet. Since then, I have been continuing this art for 68 years. At that time, I worked filigree even under candlelight or the kerosene lamp light we found. I first started learning by working on gold. I learned this profession at the age of 12 and became a filigree master. My master is my brother. I learned a lot from him. My only goal in my life was to introduce the art of filigree to the world.
What art did you start with in the first place?
At first, I continued my art on gold. I have worked gold for 30 years. Later I worked on silver. I have worked on the art of telkari for 45 years. I signed many designs.
In what year did you start?
I started this profession in 1952. I have been in this profession for 68 years. I have worked as a master instructor at the Public Education Center for 20 years. Now I am 74 years old and still, like the first day, my love of this profession continues. I will continue until the last breath of my life. This art has existed for 3 thousand years. I believe it will continue from now on.
How your husband is a filigree artist and your wife started this profession
After I got married to my husband, I started teaching this art both in the workshop and at home. My wife soon learned the art of telkari. When I went to Europe, I made this art there with my wife. My wife helped me a lot in the workshop I opened when I returned to Mardin. I worked together as both a master and an apprentice. I am very, very grateful to him. It helped me a lot. He still comes and helps me. He made a great effort to keep filigree in my wife alive. I thank him.
How many masters have you trained so far?
I do not remember numbers on this subject. But I trained over 100 masters. There are girls among them. The girls I trained are now masters. He started to train new masters in them. Trained masters open workshops for themselves in Mardin and its districts and continue the art of filigree.I am proud of them.
What does filigree art mean to you?
Now, Telkari art is something between painter and art. The painter cannot sell his painting, but we do. At this point, I should point out that art is another trade. Although I always tell my friends, it makes more money than I sell tomatoes, lettuce or watermelons. But this culture, this art, is like nothing else. We are trying to keep art alive, albeit with a scarce opinion. Look, there is a saying in Arabic: “Art is your lion! If he doesn’t give breakfast, he gives lunch. If he doesn’t give lunch, he gives dinner. ” So no three meals, but manage with two. This art is like a precious wedding ring on your finger. He makes you eat bread. You can not feed someone else bread.
Can you tell us about your work in Mardin to spread and keep your art alive?
In 1974 I went to Europe from Mardin. I stayed in Europe for 23 years. My longing for Mardin brought me here. The land where I was born is my homeland. I came in 1997. The reason is to introduce and sell Telkari to Europe. With the art of promoting Mardin’s culture on this occasion. Be careful, there is a fixed stone workmanship and you cannot take it away. I went because I devoted myself to keeping my art alive. Was there internet in the past? Open various sites now, you can access a lot of information about Mardin completely. But there is also a fact like this: No organization could introduce Telkari to the world more than I do. Television and documentaries from many countries of the world come and make interviews with me. I am telling you about Mardin. I am telling about filigree. I contribute to Mardin tourism. People come to research Mardin culture. Many people offer me various proposals to make my art in Europe. I did not accept. Mardin comes first, my art comes first for me. If I wanted to, I would make a lot of money in Europe. But for me, money is not a priority, it is the survival of the art of telkari.
You made a lot of effort to teach girls telkari, did you get the work of it?
After my return to Mardin, my first project is telkari to girls. to teach his art. My first project was the disabled and our girls whose hands were very prone to filigree. First of all, why are they disabled? There are too many disabled children here. The Disabled Association received funding from the EU and opened a workshop, but they did not do serious work. The EU did not conduct any inspection either. First of all, I raised 25 female students. Especially we worked with one for 8 years. He was working so enthusiastically that I can’t tell. Now it was adept at O and students grow.
Does economic reasons only obstacle in the development of filigree in Turkey, state support Did you get any?
Look, a lot about it I don’t want to go into details. The government got involved and gave all kinds of economic support.
Have you made a serious promotion through festivals?
Festivals are good for this kind of art. It is a promotion area. Festivals are very important to promote the Mardin filigree. This is a big job for the state. At events like this, the state will say to me: “I pay you for the expenses. Introduce Git with practice. Buy, prepare products, print promotional brochures, catalogs, and distribute to all commercial fires around the world. I would like to introduce this art to the whole world. “
What is the employment rate in filigree?
Mardin filigree is a world-class art. If there is a desire and effort, only 300-400 people will eat bread in Mardin. Workshops are created. Young people are educated. This profession is taught to them. As long as there is opportunity and space. For example, the Mayor of Beypazarı had great works on this subject. At the moment, a great employment area has been created in Beypazarı. The President has done this job.
Chinese goods seriously affect domestic production. Is it damaging filigree?
Chinese goods and fabricated Telkari are damaging. It hurts. You work for years. You are training masters. You see, goods from China are sold as Mardin filigree as Original telkari. Look, this is art. First of all, pity the art and the artist! It is a major obstacle to the widespread use of filigree. Serious controls and deterrent penalties should be imposed. Can’t the state do it? Well he does. It is burning inside me. How many thousand people can work and eat bread. From this art.
As a person in love with Mardin, would you describe the city?
Mardin is the city of tolerance.Not everyone can live here. Different ethnicities and cultures have lived together for centuries. We congratulate each other on the holidays, and we go to each other’s condolences. We share the same table. We share our pains together. Mardin is such an ancient city. But the moments that live in it. Mardin culture has a structure that will set an example to the world. The world should take Mardin as its example.