Ottoman 'çarık' for historical films

Kopar uses natural cotton yarn and beeswax. So, the shoes are waterproof and long-lasting.
Kopar uses natural cotton yarn and beeswax. So, the shoes are waterproof and long-lasting.

Hüseyin Kopar, a fourth-generation leather shoemaker produces traditional handmade sandals, known as ‘çarık' in Ottoman times, for period films

Hüseyin Kopar, a fourth generation leather shoemaker from southeast Turkey's Kahramanmaraş, has continued his trade making çarıks, handmade Ottoman sandals, for historical films and TV series.

Talking to Anadolu Agency (AA) Kopar said, "We have been dealing with leather for four generations. The clothes and Ottoman çarıks we make are used in local and foreign historical films.""For local films, we can make them in six months but for European films, they can take up to two years," he added. "It is a continuous process and every episode needs different props. Besides, different regions have different styles. In foreign films, everything, including clothes, is generally made of leather. Therefore, they need more elaborate details."

The demand for Turkish "çarık" in European countries is high, mainly because of the quality of the leather and craftsmanship.

"Çarıks produced in Turkey do not use glue or any chemicals so the buyers are very happy," he said.

To England for a new project

Kopar said that his workshop has received a overseas order for a new historical film.

"We have a new project and on March 26, we will go to England as a guest of a film company that produced films like 'Avatar' and 'Troy'," he said.

"We will make six models in 12 days. It is a historical movie about a battle between England and Hungary. So we will make shoes that were worn in that specific era. Of course, the shoes will also reflect the Ottoman style," he added.

Kopar's workshop has been part of a number of important projects in Turkey. It produced all the leather props and costumes for the movie "Fetih 1453" (Conquest 1453).

"We also made all the costumes for 'Mahmut and Meryem,' a joint production of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture," Kopar said.

European demand high

Referring to the interest in çarıks from the European market, Kopar said, "We did our first handicraft exports in 2011 because the çarıks we made for these historical films. The demand for Turkish çarıks in European countries is pretty high, mainly because of the quality of our leather and craftsmanship cannot be found in their countries. There are only two sisters in Italy but their products aren't very similar to ours."

"They use a special chemical to make the shoe water resistant up to 45 days. But, ours can be used more than three years because we use organic leather. It is more resistant to salt water as we treat them in animal fat, not chemicals. We also use natural cotton yarn and beeswax. Therefore, they became waterproof and long-lasting. Our shoes also don't cause irritations or itching," he added.

Using clay as foot sole

The master shoemaker added that the çarıks resistance against cold weather was also one of the reasons why they were preferred.

"If you wear our shoes, your feet won't get cold even in minus 30 degrees Celsius because we put clay between the base and the lining. The same material was used by the Huns in China, the Seljuks and the Ottomans. It keeps your feet warm in the winter and cool in summer," he said.

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