Over thousands of years, countless civilizations have passed through Mardin, endowing it with a rich and unique cultural heritage. As a result, the region produces many ancient traditional handcrafts, including pottery, ironwork, copper work, silverwork (telkari), lace embroidery, leather, kilims, carpets, saddles and stonework.
Telkari is a kind of filigree work made from silver and gold wire. The art of telkari was developed and practiced by the Syriac community in and around Mardin and Midyat. Thin strands of gold and silver are woven like lace into ornate jewelry and accessories including necklaces, earrings, belt buckles, chokers and rings. The art of telkari has suffered in recent years due to the fact that many telkari craftsmen left the region in the 1980s, and the turmoil in the region. Nevertheless, the improving economy and increase in tourism has resulted in an upsurge in the market for telkari.
The narrow streets of Mardin can only be navigated by donkeys and mules. As a result, saddle making has always been an important local industry. The saddles are packed with a material known locally as ‘çil’. Soft layers of felt and haircloth are then placed on top of the stuffing material so that the saddle does not hurt the animal’s back.