The "One Master, Thousand Masters" joint project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, an insurance company and non-profit organizations seeks recognition by UNESCO for its dedication to keep endangered handcrafts alive.
Launched a decade ago, the project helped to train 1,000 people in 50 crafts. The ministry now wants to be included in the U.N. agency's register of Good Safeguarding Practices for Intangible Heritage. The project already collected prestigious awards for raising awareness of traditional crafts.
It started with the training of trainees in the art of ancient shadow play Karagöz and also deals with Hacivat, meerschaum carving, a dying vocation in the western city of Eskişehir where rich meerschaum resources were once located; the weaving of kutnu, a traditional silk-based cloth peculiar to Gaziantep in the southern Turkey; Kazaziye or the art of jewelry making with threads of gold and silver in the Black Sea city of Trabzon; and the painting and varnishing of wood or leather also known as Edirnekari, in the northwestern city of Edirne. Craftsmen who devote their life to those crafts train volunteers for months within the scope of the project while documentaries shot about the vanishing crafts were broadcast on television to raise awareness. A bank also gives microloans for trainees to start up their own businesses to keep crafts alive as part of the "One Master, Thousand Masters" project.