How Arts and Crafts Reflect World Culture
When trying to understand the culture of another nation, a good place to start is to study their arts and crafts. The way different people make, design, and represent things says a great deal about them as a nation. From the very first cave paintings to the art of bonsai, arts and crafts of the world have differed in so many ways. By looking at some traditional handicrafts from around the world we might gain some important insight into their culture.
Decorative Turkish Arts
Turkey is well known for its decorative arts especially marbling, gilding, calligraphy and specialized miniature work. The craftsman of the great Ottoman Empire were once the leaders in the world at the aforementioned arts, and nobody could be compared to them. Ebruis the art of marbling on paper, and translated the word means cloud. This form of art actually does give the impression of clouds and is indeed a fine skill.
Arts Using Metal
Raw materials have long been the inspiration behind many art forms. And artisans have taken to use materials local to them to fashion different arts and crafts. Way back in Byzantine times there were metal workshops that were producing purely decorative pieces, and soon after Islamic metalwork became immensely popular. Copperwork was particularly popular in the states of the Ottoman Empire and all manner of techniques were employed including hammer work, casting, tapping, and cutting.
Ceramics and Earthenware
Clay has been the raw material of choice for decorative arts for thousands of years. And as time went by certain civilizations learned the art of making ceramics. In the earliest days the communities would just make earthenware pots for general day to day use. And then some craftsmen discovered that if they fired the clay to really high temperatures then more elegant items could be made. The earliest civilizations to discover this were Japan and China.
The process of making things with wood goes back to the very earliest days. It was the most obvious form of artistic material as the primitive world was covered in forests. Some civilizations considered trees as sacred such as the people of Central Asia and the Native Indians. They believed in making decorative items out of wood was actually honoring the earth and their gods. This was well before the material was used for everyday use.
Decorative stonework has been highly popular since caveman days and finding ways to etch or cut rock with other stone is probably the most primitive art form that still exists today. As civilizations progressed stone became a way of representing opulence. Huge cities began to be fashioned with fine stone buildings representing how rich a certain ruler was. The more elaborate the buildings, the more wealth the city represented. These cities began to also represent whole empires and the countries were often just one city states. Certainly, through the ages the crafts and arts of civilizations have told the story of the people who lived there, and this still continues today.