Remembering traditional craftsmanship

conserving a heritage of woodworking in Rize, Turkey

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The rural vernacular architecture in the highlands of the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey has survived over 200 years, yet the local traditions of craftsmanship in wood are disappearing. As these craft skills are no longer being handed down, the value of the intangible heritage that lies behind the vernacular architecture is no longer being promoted, despite the importance of woodworking in the historical evolution of the area.

This paper reviews the longstanding tradition of woodworking and its relationship with the local community. Based on unstructured interviews with local people, analysis of archival sources and on-site observations, the study first highlights the use of wood in daily life, including everyday objects, decoration and carving on traditional furniture. Then it examines current local practices, the interconnected value of the built heritage, and the loss of those values in construction today. I ask how woodworking was used in the past and how people can now promote it. I will discuss the continuity of this legacy particularly through oral history, and how better public inclusion could safeguard this element of intangible heritage in the future.