I have been fascinated with oya crochet for quite a long time. Always admiring minute, exquisite stitches that marvelously compose a whole new intricate and enchanting world.
The history of this decorative edging known also as "Turkish lace" is thought to date back to the 8th century B.C. in Anatolia. Traditionally, Anatolian women used oya edgings to decorate their headdresses and scarves, under and outer garments, edges of towels and napkins, and today they are also popular as jewelry.
Oya edging, which appears all over Anatolia in various forms and motifs, has different names depending on the means employed: needle, crochet hook, shuttle, hairpin, bead, tassel to name just a few.
What I find immensely compelling is the messages they used to convey. Keeping in mind that this was a region where a woman was expected to remain silent or not bring up certain subjects, they had quite a lot to tell through their oya. Oya was the secret language they developed to tell the world what they had or how they felt. For example blue oya meant happiness and yellow meant tiredness.
Girls engaged to marry the man they love wore oya of pink hyacinths and almond blossoms, while a girl in love wore purple hyacinths. Plum blossom oya was worn by brides.
A girl engaged to be married sends a piece of oya -edged printed cloth to her prospective mother-in-law. If what she sends is ‘meadow and grass’ oya, this implies that their relations are cordial. But if she sends ‘gravestone’ oya, it means ‘the coldness between us will endure until death’.
Since the oya is seen by the neighbors at the wedding ceremony, it is of course the wish of all mothers-in-law that their new daughters-in-law wrap ‘meadow-grass’ oya around their heads. The groom’s family, too, sends the bride a ‘bridal cloth’ with two or three oya flowers from which the bridal headdress will be made.
I have tried my hand at oya by making a tiny flower, but in the future I would love to include some beads and actually make it a big project.
Here's a free pattern for a necklace, courtesy of Wendy from the Sunshine Creations.
Information about the meaning of oya was taken from Turkish Cultural Foundation and the respective links for the images I used in this post can be found on my pin board here.