Undoubtedly, the most prominent handicraft of North Cyprus is lace embroidery, which is known as Lefkaritika lace. This art dates back to the 15th century and this art was registered in the UNESCO heritage list in the fall of 2009.
It was the people of Venice who inspired Lefkara lace during the occupation of the island of Cyprus in 1570-1489. Local women took ideas from the fine embroidery on their clothes and applied it on their own lace.
Lace embroidery has always been a part of every Turkish Cypriot’s life, as white embroidery on wedding dresses has been customary in Cyprus since ancient times, and traditionally young Cypriot girls had to prepare an extensive collection of embroidered lace to display on their wedding day. So, this art has been passed down from mothers to daughters for centuries.
In the villages and small towns of Northern Cyprus, women sit together and skillfully embroider on linen fabrics. Cypriot embroidered lace is used for tablecloths and other kitchen decorations, and they are also sewn and woven with complex geometric patterns that are completely identical and similar on both sides.
Mat weaving is another traditional art of people of the island. The wicker baskets of Northern Cyprus cannot be ignored. Bright and cheerful designs of woven mats easily attract your attention from shops and restaurant walls across the country. Mat weaving in Northern Cyprus is a unique art, because every weaver has their own weaving pattern and weaves the mat according to their taste. Flat trays, along with delicate bread baskets and lidded jewelry boxes, are made from a special type of reed and larger baskets from bamboo.
Sometimes stems, leaves and branches of trees are used to produce items such as baskets, bread trays, brooms and even jewelry boxes.
Another kind of beautiful and colorful embroidery, in which linen fabrics are tightly tied on circular wooden frames, called kasnak, and then the outline is embroidered with brown or black French silk thread, is known as the special embroidery of Northern Cyprus.
Traditional embroidery in Northern Cyprus is known as “hesap” which means calculation. This name is chosen because when decorating them with different motifs, each thread is counted one by one.
Up until recent years, every Turkish Cypriot family was adept at catching precious silkworm cocoons and weaving silk fabrics by turning the cocoons into thread. Unfortunately, the silk fabric business in Northern Cyprus was shut down due to foreign competition and industrialization, but this fascinating industry still remains with the production of decorative items from silkworm cocoons. Today, silk cocoons are used to decorate textiles and clothing in Northern Cyprus.
The interesting fact is that the color of the cocoons is different in different countries, in Turkey they are white, but in Cyprus the cocoons are yellow.
Yemeni Scarf (Traditional Scarf)
The intricately decorated Yemeni headscarves used to be widely worn by Turkish Cypriot women as a symbol of wealth. Originally, these scarves were a sign of wealth and power. These scarves were woven from thin threads and then decorated with beautiful and intricate designs of leaves, branches and flowers and tied around the head, which immigrants and travelers bought as souvenirs.
It is interesting to know that many old women of Northern Cyprus in small towns still wear this traditional headscarf.
Chairs Made of Straw
You can find chairs made of straw at many craft stores. The art of reed weaving has always been very popular in Northern Cyprus.
Each of these miniature chairs has a very intricate texture. These types of chairs are very light yet durable and are still very popular among Turkish Cypriot families.