The city of Mardin and its goldsmith heritage
The beautiful and mysterious city of Mardin, far hidden somewhere in the southeast of Turkey, hides a secret so vibrant and unique that travelers will become enchanted and may never want to leave. The cultural heritage of this gem tucked away in this no-man’s-land of the East reveals a rich history of proud tradition and excellence in crafting finest metals.
A Rich History
The city’s earliest dwellers were ancient Syriacs who trace their origin from an empire in Mesopotamia. The city of Mardin was originally a territory known as Izalla and was a part of the Hurrian Kingdom-extending from Syria to Northern Mesopotamia in the late Stone Age. During the Middle Assyrian Empire, the city and its surroundings were absorbed into the Mesopotamian Kingdom of Assyria. The town was again absorbed during the Iron Age Mesopotamian Empire-the Neo-Assyrian Empire. During the Roman period, the city was known as Marida (Merida), meaning “fortress” in Syriac or Aramaic. The earliest dwellers of the Mardin territory were Syriacs, who spoke a melodious Semitic language called Aramaic believed to be the native tongue of Jesus Christ.The history of Mardin is etched in stone throughout the ancient city and is not learned but experienced by travelers far and wide. The ancient town’s artwork on ancient buildings depicts stunning artistic heritage and craftsmanship preserved with care by its residents. This heritage is shown as richly detailed ceramic art and other precious artistic ornaments. The modern town has grown seamlessly out of ancient Assyrian architecture, preserving the history for generations. Mardin served as a capital to the Sunni Islam Turkmen dynasty known as Turkic Artuqid. Consequently, there exists a rich Islamic heritage ranging from Madrasahs to mosques still visible in the city to date. Many of Mardin’s historic buildings were constructed during the Artuqid period. During the medieval period, the city’s population was mostly comprised of Assyrians and Armenians and was a stronghold of Syriac Orthodox Church. Later, in the 16th century, the city was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.Vibrant Modern Culture
Modern Mardin is a living city bursting with culture and activity. The proud history of an ancient city that survived empires is carried on today in this thriving artistic metropolis in modern day Turkey. The diversity is unmatched, and almost any culture can be found here. The Assyrians, Romans, Arabs, Mongols, Mamluks, Persians, and Ottomans all conquered, settled and prospered in this beautiful region and these proud states and empires left their mark on Mardin. Today, the city’s population is primarily comprised of Arabs and Kurds. However, Syriac Orthodoxies, Catholic Armenians, Turks, and Syrian and Yezidi refugees also live within the city.The rich culture and diversity of people gives Mardin an allure that many cannot resist, especially for people who enjoy learning and discovering others’ ways of lives. The magnificent structures of old and new civilizations contribute to the multicultural atmosphere that reflects years of human history. The old town features dome-shaped mosques and numerous churches, where locals, natives and visitors mingle to experience and learn from other cultures. Among these buildings, the most notable are the Maryemana Church, a Syriac Catholic church built in the late 19th century, Ulu Camii or the Great Mosque, and the Red Church, an Armenian Catholic church. Deyrü'z-Zafaran Monastery is also located just outside Mardin. Known as the Saffron Monastery, it is probably the most important religious center of the Syriac Orthodox Christians and one of the oldest monasteries in the world. These and other historical, cultural, and religious heritage venues have been meticulously preserved to honor the diversity of people, cultures and religions that built Mardin into the great city that it is.Goldsmithing Tradition Like No Other
The skilled Assyrian Goldsmiths of Mardin represent the ornamental beauty of the historic city. Their workshops are bedecked in beautiful jewelry in ornate designs, inspired by the culture, landscape, and unique history of the city itself. Devoted to creating unique works of art, jewelry, and ornamental rings, these craftsmen make living magic out of stones and metals. Locally sourced precious metals and gemstones provide unique materials that make the pieces of jewelry from Mardin goldsmiths true works of art.The workshops of these craftsman are as vibrant and inspiring as the city that surrounds them. Goldsmiths there craft and design every process with intimate passion. Craftsmen and journeymen first cut or saw beautiful previous metals with ultimate precision. Then other process such as forging, and casting are also performed at these same workshops by the skilled artists. Forged pieces are soldered or beaten into the desired shapes and put through a precise polishing process to produce the finest finished jewelry pieces. The expert work of these dedicated craftsman is only achieved through years of hard work and study with master goldsmiths.
The beauty of Mardin’s historic architecture and culture is reflected in these stunning works of gold and ornamental jewelry. The skillfulness of Mardin’s craftsmen has made the town a center for jewelry around the world. Their expertly crafted jewels and ornaments take that culture and distill it into unique pieces that will keep the beauty and mystery of the city close to, wherever you journey.