Craftsmen keep the legacy of Anatolian wrestling alive
by Anadolu Agency
EDİRNEJul 23, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Jul 23, 2016 12:00 am
Adem Kayın, one of three masters of making kispet (leather knee-high trousers worn by Turkish wrestlers) is struggling to keep the tradition of handmade kispet-making alive. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Kayın claimed that there are no new kispet-makers being trained because people do not want a job that offers no regular income. Kayın said that kispet makers are the primary focus of viewers while watching "pehlivans" (traditional Anatolian wrestlers, who wrestle while covered in oil), focusing on the details of their kispets. Speaking to AA, Kayın said, "I am an art teacher. I love the traditional arts and want to keep them live. I learned this craft in order to help other masters to pass this tradition down to new generations, and I am still fighting for it. While everyone else focuses on the wrestlers and the matches in Kırkpınar, where traditional Turkish oil wrestling matches took place for centuries, we kispet makers focus on the kispets of the wrestlers. If the pehlivan who wears my kispet advances to the finals, this pleases me."
A kispet which is considered in Kırkpınar as the only companion of a pehlivan, is made from calfskin, using a knife and brass knuckles. It takes almost three days to finish a kispet. Making the garment requires craftsmanship and expertise. Kayın said that the kispet is composed of three main parts; namely, the "kasnak," "hazne" and "paça." He explained, "First, the leather that will be used in kispet is chosen and masters should show careful attention in selecting the leather. We usually choose calfskin without any knife marks."
After choosing the leather, the kispet maker measures the pehlivan. The calfskin is used in layers to strengthen the kispet which are glued and sewn onto each other. After sewing is finished, the kispet maker embroiders the leather. "Embroidery is very important," Kayın said. "First, we connect the ‘hazne' and ‘kasnak' and sew them. The most important part of the kispet is the connection. The kispet master should do a good job, in order to enable the pehlivan to move easily during the match." Kayın said that he makes custom kispets for every pehlivan, which distinguishes him from other kispet masters. Since wrestling matches take place between May and October, kispet makers do not make much money during the rest of the year. Due to this instability, Kayın claims that he has had a hard time finding an apprentice.