The last remaining metalsmith master from a family of metalsmiths in Malatya stretching back four generations, Yusuf Bayyiğit continues to manufacture knives and swords using the legendary steel from the Middle Ages known as “Damascus steel," and his products are in high demand.
Bayyiğit receives special orders from Turkey and abroad, turning steel into various tools, primarily knives and swords, by forging it.
The master craftsman, who shapes the steel in an oven in his workshop that reaches 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,552 degrees Fahrenheit), creates beautiful products after an arduous process.
Damascus steel, which produces unique patterns that mean two swords are never alike, is among the first choice of many chefs thanks to its flexibility and durability. Bayyiğit, which also produces products such as earrings, rings, necklaces and axes, has recently been meeting the needs of historical TV series and movie sets.
The metalsmith, who is also a traditional handicrafts artist from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that he has been pursuing the difficult profession for many years.
Bayyiğit said that steel forging is his ancestral profession.
Noting that the number of masters who do this work with traditional methods in Turkey has decreased, Bayyiğit said: "You have to make this steel with spirit, you have to master iron, fire and hammer blows. There is no chance to bring it to a certain degree just in the furnace. After you get the correct heating value, the power of the hammer blows is important. You have to adjust these well. Otherwise, it will result in disappointment. There are very few people who are producing these works in the world and they are all talented people."
Bayyiğit stated that Damascus steel is special and can be shaped after many processes.
Stating that the patterns on it also attract peoples’ attention, Bayyiğit explained: "Damascus steel is an incredible steel. Someone who does not have decades of experience cannot produce it. This is the case all over the world. This steel has incredible patterns and strength. It has gained importance worldwide in recent years. It is one of the most special and favorite steels globally and has incredible characteristics. Today, when I make a knife from Damascus, I hit the steel with tens of thousands of hammer blows. These blows give it great strength. So much can be told about Damascus. It has just started to be produced in our country."
Bayyiğit said that the number of steel masters working with Damascus steel in Turkey is very small.
He also explained: "I have customers in at least 75 of the 81 cities in Turkey. I work on orders because I am alone. I send chef knives abroad to Germany, Austria and England. My list is very full. Right now, if someone calls me and wants to order, I express that I can only start after one month. It is not something that is done with mass production."
Bayyiğit explained that Damascus steel cannot be made in factories and that customers who own this product cannot bear to use it.
Pointing out that he has produced many knives, gun handles and swords to date, Bayyiğit said: "I have sent products to TV series and movies. If the producers want special designs from me, I would like to make them. I have customers in Kütahya, they bought special axes from me. I have seen my work in TV series and movies."
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