Gentrified Handcrafts and Borders of Tradition: The Case of Olgunlasma Institutes


MILLI FOLKLOR, vol.2017, no.116, pp.58-72, 2017 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2017 Issue: 116
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.58-72
  • Keywords: tradition, modernization of tradition, Olgunlasma Institutes, handcrafts
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: Yes


Olgunlasma Institutes, first established in 1945, are one of the prominent vocational education institutions for women. Even giving lectures on a broad range of craft training in various provinces of Turkey, Olgunlasma Institutes are observed as having a corporate image of training on traditional handicraft. Olgunlasma Institutes, considered as the continuation of the Institutes for Girls, have a remarkable place in Turkish fashion history even at present they have lost their historic influence. One of the fundamental qualifications of the products of Olgunlasma Institutes is being braced by the tradition. Olgunlasma Institutes have characterised themselves as one of the state institutes responsible for transmitting traditional handicraft in a way of institutional base. This feature is one of the most significant characteristics that distinguishes OlgunlasmaInstitutes from other vocational education institutions. Olgunlasma Institutes express themselves as an organization of performing scientific research on handicrafts through using the word "institute" in their names. In this article, based on the data accumulated from the semi-structured and in-depth interviews with the teachers of Olgunlasma Institutes located in Ankara and in Trabzon provinces, the following issues raised at Olgunlasma Institutes are discussed i.e. what is understood from the tradition, how the tradition is rendered a part of a discourse and how the traditional handicrafts are distinguished. Modernisation of tradition is one of the notions introduced frequently by the Olgunlasma Institutes. Lecturers of the Institutes believe that they maintain the tradition by means of abiding by its authenticity and suggest that the tradition can be maintained in proportion to the accordance with today's conditions and credit within "certain criteria". To what extent the adaptation of tradition to time for sure depends on the handicrafts themselves. Olgunlasma Institutes suppose that they modernize the tradition based on "certain criteria" resulting in sustaining the living tradition by this means.