Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tribute to Necmeddin Okyay

Necmeddin Okyay, (1883-1976) was was born in Uskudar/Istanbul died at the age of 93, may he rest in peace. He is a  role model for me and many others not only for his deeds in Turkish archery but also with his character. He earns big respect as a true Ottoman.

He was one of the last famous Turkish bowyers/archers. He took the name 'Okyay'. Ok means arrow, yay means bow in Turkish.  Imagine his devotion to archery. He learned archery from Seyfeddin Efendi, the archery teacher of Sultan Abdul Aziz (reigned 1861-1876). Later he was even allowed to use and repair the archery equipment in the Military Museum Istanbul.
Necmettin Okyay inspecting a Turkish bow

Necmeddin Okyay with a Turkish bow

Famous picture where he demonstrates the full draw with a siper and according grip

He spent much time and effort to teach and promote this wonderful style of archery and our heritage. So today our group is not even the first group to revive Turkish archery. The first was founded in the 1930ies and fostered and encouraged by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and was called 'Okspor'. Necmeddin Okyay had students and taught them a lot of things about Ottoman archery and Turkish bows. Today no student lives anymore and it seems nobody of these passed their knowledge on. So sadly the line was broken and today we can only research books.

Okspor picture (Name of archer: Betul Or)

Necmeddin Okyay with fellow archers

What distinguishes Necmeddin particularly is that he researched, practiced and taught the old Turkish arts like calligraphy, rose cultivating, ebru (Turkish paper marbling), archery and some more. That is why he earned the title 'Hezarfen= person of 1000 sciences. For every art or science he had the best teachers of the Ottomans and he never stopped learning.

Not only was he of utmost importance for the archers but also many other groups e.g. The Ebru makers. He has been an ''ebru'' master (Turkish paper marbling- http://www.muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=530). He developed a new style and technique which gained huge popularity.

Floral Ebru by Necmettin Okyay

Necmeddin Okyay showing Ottoman Calligraphy

He grew roses as well. He had about 400 species of roses in his garden of which he knew all the latin names.
Last year archer friends in Turkey tried to find his house in Istanbul/Uskudar in Toygar Street, which is said to contain many many bows and archery treasures. Unfortunately our friends discovered that the original Ottoman house was demolished and a new apartment was build at its place.

You might think what has ebru, calligraphy, rose cultivation, poetry and archery in common. Looking closely at Ottoman museum bows gives us an idea. Such a deadly weapon, but on it you can see floral designs in lively colours with gold applications. Beauty and power goes hand in hand, and both aspects are perfect and complement each other..


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