Copper is an extraordinary mineral that has proven to be incredibly useful and beneficial for our health for thousands of years. It is one of the only metals that is able to be used directly from the environment in its natural form and so has been used in various ways throughout history.
Studies have shown the numerous benefits of copper for our health which range from the ability to destroy or inhibit bacterial growth, to boosting the immune system, improving health of connective tissues, preventing premature ageing, increasing energy production and red blood cells while reducing cholesterol.
The history of the first copper smelting work dates back to around 7000BC, and was found in Diyarbakir, Turkey where copper tools such as pins and hooks and ornamental items were produced. However, the art of copper gained increasing momentum during the periods of the Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires when important technical and artistic developments took place. During the Ottoman period, Maras became one of the main centres of copper manufacturing.
Although copperware has modernized and undergone some important changes since the second half of the 19th century the production process is relatively the same, only the style of the copper pieces began to change.
There are four techniques for copper production; casting, hammering, plating and pressing. The ancient and time consuming art of hammering has been used for hundreds of years and is still used today. Visually is gives copper the most beautiful appearance.
In order to work with copper, it is heated on fire to enable it to be worked on more easily. Then the coppersmith determines the outline of the piece to be made, and hammers the soft copper into shape. With each bang of the hammer, as copper is shaped, a decorative pattern emerges.
Over the years, the craftsmen of Maras have not only become experts in the intricate decoration of their copperware but they have also looked at ways to produce a more environmentally friendly product. To reduce environmental and noise pollution, the coppersmiths’ workshops were grouped together in one area known as the coppersmiths’ market. Today this lively and colourful commercial hub gives us a nice glimpse into what copper production was like in the past.
Although copperware products used to be found in all areas of daily life, today they are mainly displayed as decorative items. However, in recent years, as people came to realize that copper produced a healthier and tastier alternative to other materials, copperware began its gradual return. Coppersmiths have fought to keep their centuries-old profession alive and now they have also developed and delved into new designs and products to suit modern needs.