Thursday، 19 May 2016 12:00 AM
Wood turnery is a well-known craft that was practiced by the ancient Egyptian; this craft reached a very high degree of perfection and sound taste during old times. Egypt had a deeply rooted fame in the art of turnery, Ancient Egyptian remnants contain large quantities of turned wood and the tools used in this craft are found in temple wall inscriptions explaining their use. These tools included hammers, axes, chisels and saws, all of which had wooden handles.
Surprisingly, all rings found on the wooden stands of seats are hand-made and resemble those turned by lathe. One of the seats found in the tomb of Tut Ankh Amon has stands ornamented with rings similar to modern turned ones, but it has not been demonstrated whether these were turned or filed.
The Copts inherited from their forefather’s skills and crafts, especially the art of carpentry in which they show remarkable supremacy as well as experience in various types of wood. They did not only use local types of wood, but they imported the best types such as ebony from Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan, and walnut, nut and oak from Europe and West Asia.
In the thirteenth century some Coptic houses which were full of handmade turned woodwork were found. These included wooden doors, and mashrabiyaat (projecting oriental window with wooden latticework enclosure). Those mashrabiyaat were made from pine or Turkish walnut and beech wood. They have been used since the Roman age until the present time. Many Coptic pieces of wood turnery were found in the nunneries of the city of Habo, Koum Ishkaw, Asiut and Sakkara. The Coptic museum keeps a collection of Coptic woodwork that shows the various phases of carpentry and its ornamentation since the Christian age where the Byzantine-Greek influence is obvious.
Types of wood:
Egyptian craftsmen have shown significant supremacy and experience in examining different types of wood. Since wood is a commonly used substance. It is important to shed light on some types of wood, how to maintain them and ways of processing them.
1- Wood should be protected by good dehydration, which gives it resistance against parasites.
2- Wood is processed by sawing up the tree into logs of various thick nesses, widths and lengths. Most widely used types of wood should have the following specifications: color, weight, fabric, measurements and use. Types of wood used in making furniture, engraving and turnery are numerous and depend on their distinctive qualities.
Sant wood is tough, rigid and has a reddish color, which changes by time. It is similar to ebony and used in making furniture. Mulberry wood has a yellowish color and contains red circles. It is tough and has condensed fibers. It can be used in making furniture and turnery as its surface can be polished. Tamarind wood has a white yellowish color and is used in making furniture.
Nut wood is a good type of wood that can be used in making furniture. Nabk wood is a good type of wood and may replace beech in making furniture. Guava, lemon, sycamore, olive, date, willow wood are used in turnery as they have different ornamental color. Imported Timber: Imported timber includes mild workable and tough rigid types.
A- Workable wood includes red pine and yellow pine known as (Mosky or Swedish). These are used in carpentry, turnery and furniture.
B- Tough Rigid timber includes beech and ebony. Beech timber is basically white yellowish in color, but turns to reddish yellow after dehydration. it is flexible and is preferred in making seats and heavy furniture. Ebony has various types with different colors: Red, brown, green and black. It is tough and used in turnery.
Types of wood turnery:
1- Large turnery:
This type of turnery includes turnery of seat and table legs and furniture. An old example of this type of turnery is the wooden fence around the Mardany Mosque in Tibbana. There is also another type called cistern turnery that is used in windows overlooking internal corridors in order to allow air and light inside the place.
2- Fine Turnery (Known as Mashrablya Turnery):
Mashrabiya turnery has different names and measures. Turned heads may have various geometrical shapes. Maymouny type of turnery refers to oval or hexagonal units.
There are also turned units used for ornamentation and joining other units. It should be noted that both large and fine turnery may exist side by side in one unit. Thus, we can find a large frame containing fine turnery representing Arabic orthography a pending lamp, an animal or a bird. Two different colors of two different types of timber can be used to give an exquisite woodwork.
Turnery craft and carpentry in general were among the crafts that used to have a chief master, as every craft had a master. Every crafts man or woodworker who wanted to join the turnery craft, for example, has to submit woodwork of his own creation to be examined as regards geometric and artistic shape.
Woodworks and turned shapes used in ancient houses have added innovations in external and internal designs. Such exquisite and beautiful designs have contributed a lot to Egypt’s civilization role in the field of folk crafts. Among the houses which were designed and modeled after the Memeluke design during the Ottoman reign (1517-1805 A.D.) are the old Memeluke houses in Rossetta.
Mashrabiya in Rossetta houses project from the sidewall and it is decorated with some ornaments. The front of the Mashrabiya is divided into many turned woodwork units. The craftsman has also added some ornamental designs, which exhibit an Islamic character, such as Islamic arches.
Turned woodwork used in Rosietta houses include both wide (spacious) and fine turnery. Wood used to be turned manually (by lathes operated manually), but nowadays-manual lathes have been replaced by electrical ones to cope with the spirit of modern age and mass production.
Wood turners have creatively made efforts to introduce various turned units into walking sticks made from ebony; kohl containers made of wood ivory or animal bone or even plastic; lampshade pedestals, wood draught screens; mirror and photograph frames; jewelry boxes; rosary beads; and ornamentation of musical instruments.
Creative turnery is an outcome of long and painstaking effort in training craftsmen as weld as of awareness and development of creative abilities in some schools for teaching traditional crafts. The Ministry of culture has recently established a craft’s c enter in Al -Ghoury District which started in 1960 and still plays an essential role in developing the turnery craft and teaching the young generation to be future craftsmen.