From being a grocery boy to becoming woodcarving master…

He sees a prayer bead and becomes a master of woodcarving…
From being a grocery boy to becoming woodcarving master…

Master Hayati, who has started with a prayer beads with geometrical figures, continues his efforts to develop woodcarving and engraving, he says that he deals with this job until mornings after he has closed the grocery store in the evenings. He improves on his handicraft thanks to his interest, determination, patience and handicraft.

The past of woodcarving bases on Anatolian Seljuks… In the Ottoman Empire, it takes its rightful place. Firstly, figures have been pictured on trees, and then people engraved stones and marble… It is such an art, which sometimes beautifies the walls of a mosque and sometimes gives life to a wooden door, to a knife or to a patera with engraved figures…  Woods, marbles, steel and stone grounds will be finely engraved in the hands of the woodcarving master… Sometimes a woodcarving master patiently engraves prayer beads… Hayati Ünsal is one of the people, who set his heart on this art… He is one of the masters of modern-day, who has improved himself… Prayer beads, which he saw in the grocery store of this father, drove him to this art. He becomes 48; he neither gives up on his grocery store nor on his art… He is now a master, who sells his works online… He is also known as Master Hayati…

He is born in the village of Calici of Dogansar District in Sivas in 1971. In 1795 his family moves to Sivas for the education of their children. The father starts up a grocery store in the center of the city. Hayati becomes the apprentice of his father… He both goes to school and works at the grocery store… Prayer beads, which he saw in his father’s hands, drove him to this art. The figures on little beads awaken his interest. He wonders how such a tiny piece can be engraved… He teaches himself woodcarving without taking any education. By setting his heart on it, patiently and with love… He engraves every material… Whether wood, or steel, or stone, or bone… Master Hayati, who sells his works online to the worlds tells the story of his childhood and the engraved prayer beads of his father, which impressed him very much:

“My father Bekir was very keen on prayer beads. In his free time, he dealt with prayer beads in the grocery store. I lined up the prayer beads of my father. While dealing with my father’s prayer beads, the figures on it awakened my interest. While talking to clients, who came to the grocery store, I started to examine the inlaid prayer beads in their hands. One day one of our clients, who came to the grocery store, brought a jet prayer beads inlaid with silver. The prayer beads awakened my interest very much. The thought of “I can do this” arose at that time. Afterward, one of our clients, who knew my interest in prayer beads, brought me a carved prayer bead, which he had found in the cemetery, which is used by priests. I decided to carve these prayer beads. I transformed the geometrical figures on it into floriated patterns. This is how I started carving.”

Master Hayati says that he has never taken carving education. He says “I did not have a master. In those years there was no artist in Sivas, who could teach this art, so I started carving and engraving with my limited opportunities.”

“I Do It With Passion”
Master Hayati explains his passion for this job with the following sentences:
“I set my heart on this job. My biggest motivation is this. I work on handicrafts in my free time, because I have handicraft. Every evening I deal with these works after closing the grocery store until the morning. The demand has increased for a spoon, a bone comb, Sivas knife, water jug and crockery day by day. I cannot catch up with new demands. My job requires lots of patience because it is a handicraft. I lose track of time while performing. I am very happy about investing my time in carving and engraving.”

Engravings Of Floriated Pattens
Master Hayati, who usually uses floriated patterns for his engravings, says “I also use Ottoman motives, but it is hard to reflect three-dimensional vitality. I usually prefer lively floriated patterns instead of Ottoman motives.
Some of the motives are created by myself. Sometimes I use historical artifacts. Sometimes my customers determine the motives. There are people who demand the motives of Twin Minarets and Leaned Bridge, which are the cultural values of Sivas.”

Woodcarving With The Whole Family
Hayati Usta made also his children love the woodcarving. He has got three children. He says that he works together with his son and his daughters in the evenings. and especially his daughters have an interest in this job.

Orders From Germany and America
Master Hayati has started receiving orders from Turkey and from abroad soon after he has shared his works on the web. He mostly finishes personal works and attracts a great deal of attention from people, who deal with collection work. He receives orders from Germany and America and finishes his speech with the following sentences:
“I want, that the name of Sivas will be known, and to bring our ancient history to light. I want to hand down this job to the next generations and train apprentices. My aim is to move my art forward, create works and leave a lasting impression in this world with God’s help.”


He first engraves a prayer bead, and later walking sticks, crockery, wooden spoons, silver, combs, knife, and axes… Because he can finish beautiful works and he attracts attention, he decides to improve carving, which he started as a hobby. So he turns a room of his house into a studio…

Master Hayati says that he can carve every material (wood, steel, stone, bone) and that there is a wide range of carving. He emphasizes that every material can be carved on condition that the spirit, the language and the principles of this art have been assimilated… Some of Master Hayati’s works are earthenware pot, a bone comb, walking stick, spoon, famous Sivas steel knife and axes made of 1060 steel.

By: Hikmet Kuru / Photo : Sercan Çetinel

*This article was  published in the  January– February issue of Marmara Life. 


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