Decorating architecture is a world-wide tradition. Yet, in Safranbolu there is no tendency for excessive decoration. Decoration is limited to form of an element, textures of materials, and occasionally to the use of paint. This is the outcome of a sound and consistent attitude towards art. Traditions play the most important role in determining the style of decoration. This is why, even during the period when the baroque style should have been most pronounced, the austerity of the previous classical period has managed to survive.
THE DECORATION OF WOODEN ELEMENTS
Fretsaw Carving on Wood
Wood is cut in curvilinear shapes with different fretsaws. This is usually followed by bevelling or chamfering of the edges. The following are some examples where this type of finishing has been used:
Arches over doors, arches over fireplaces, small niches window balustrades, arches or architraves of fire-wood storage cupboards, lower and upper cornices of windows, battens of wooden screens and wooden cladding, the arch and shelf of the flower niche and various cantilevering shelves, the hole of the wash-room counter top, the crown of the window lattices the crown of the open hall lattices and garden benches.
The Bevelling of Wooden Elements
The edges of cut out pieces are bevelled or chamfered, various decorative motifs are carved on the surfaces; a wooden element is carved into shape or a wooden element is decorated through bevelling. We can see this type of decoration on the following elements: the astragals of doors, windows and cupboard doors, brackets, door and window latches, moldings on battens, cornices, door panels and frames hearth hoods; newel posts of balustrades; knotting points of. the classical window grilles; some pillars and capitals.
Decorating by Wood Turning
Wooden decorative elements are shaped by manual lathes. Generally, poplar is used for this purpose. This type of decoration is utilized for the following elements: window balustrades; various grilles and balustrades; newelposts.
Decoration Made with joints
The Joining of Wooden Elements: Some cupboard doors, doors interior wood panelling, ceilings; classical window grilles. The Nailing of Wooden Elements: Interior wooden panels and ceilings are decorated with beads and battens covering the seams of the cladding br with divisions made with laths. The medallions of the ceiling are formed by nailing wooden laths in a poligonal form, one on top of the other. The lattices are made of parallel laths, either in a single direction or in two intersecting directions. The semi-circular window tops of some hall eyvans. These are divided radially and decorated with coloured glass.
Making Use of the Difference in Color and Texture of Materials in Decoration
In some of the panelled doors, the frames are made of pine while the panels are made of walnut. This creates a contrast in color and texture. Wooden surfaces left unpainted acquire a chestnut browh hue in time which gives them a natural color, forming a pleasant contrast with the whitewashed surfaces. On the weather-beaten exterior surfaces, the annual rings of trees emerge, thus giving an accentuated texture to the wood.
Decoration with the Use of Paint
Very rarely are wooden surfaces painted in various colours with oil paint; however, even then the texture of the wood can be discerned beneath the paint because thick linning putty is not used. Paint is mostly favored on the ceilings.
We can come across wall paintings in houses dating from the first half of the 19th century. The only remaining painting in the summer house of Haci Salih Pasa (dated 1820) depicts sailing boats between two castles. Some figurative paintings and floral designs could be seen on the wall of the Asmazlar summer house (dated 1822) until recently. During repairs undertaken in 1973 the plasters on which these paintings were done were peeled off and the walls were re-plastered. Today we can only see an inscription dated 1822 (1237) on a wall in the hall of the top floor. In the Kavsalar house at Gumus (1839-1841), an illustration of strange castles and a sailing ship with a lion’s head has survived over the sergen on the wall of the hall. In a house dated 1879 at Kirankoy there are various illustrations, some of which are presumably depicting Istanbul. In the summer house of the Memisogullan, on the walls and the ceiling of the hall of the top floor there are floral designs which were probably painted in the early 20th century. There are painted decorations in the pond pavilion of the Rauf Bey house in the Baglar district. Similar decorations can be encountered in the interiors of other houses in Safranbolu.
Floral designs can also be found on the exteriors of buildings. The most obvious example of such buildings is the Macun Agasi Izzet Efendi house.
On the corners of the facades which can be perceived from the street, either close to the eaves or on the pediments of the projections of the hall there are inscriptions in Arabic script. These may be either a quotationfrom the Koran or the building date of the house. In general the inscriptions are examples of the art of calligraphy and take the symbolic shape of an ewer, a water jug, a lamp, a pear, or the imperial monogram (tugra). “Masallah” or “Masallah-u kane” which entrusts the safety of the house to Allah, are the inscriptions mostly favoured. In the corner house of the Karaosmanogullari in Gumus, right in the centre of the pediment, the initial sentence of all prayers in the Koran, “Bismillahir rahman-ilr rahim is inscribed in black paint, in the form of an imperial monogram, a very impressive decorative element. Unfortunately in 1976 this pediment was demolished and the whole facade was plastered in green. In most cases there is a tassel dangling from beneath a baroque frame. Yellow, green, blue and red have been used in the garlands framing the inscriptions. On the walls of some houses there is a white crescent within a blue oval form with a relieved frame, instead of the garlands. Sometimes a blue crescent is painted on the whitewashed surface.
In most cases they are beneath the inscriptions on the exterior; but they may be found elsewhere. These are some examples:
1224 (1809 A.D.) Haci Yusuflar house. On the base-plate of the door latch.
1235 (1820 A.D.) Haci Salih Pasa house. Relieved on the stone wall near the entrance door.
1237 (1822 A.D.) Asmazlar summer house. Over the hall sergen on the top floor.
1255 (1839 A.D.), 1256 (1840 A.D.), 1257 (1841 A.D.). Kavsa house. Over the doors opening onto the top floor hall.
The most significant decoration made with stucco is seen on the upper course windows. There are also stucco reliefs on the two hearths of the Asmazlar house where the gypsum hearth- hoods have been demolished.
On the exterior of the Mektepliler house dated 1787 there are stylized figures of plants and animals and geometrical patterns made with a special stucco technique. These figures are reminiscent of very ancient forms. Being the only example of its kind in Safranbolu this decoration is of utmost importance.
LAM AND PLASTER DECORATION
Some of the curvilinear surfaces such as coved ceilings, flower niches, and corbels beneath bay windows are made using the lath-and-plaster technique.
The most intricate examples of decoration made using stone can be seen in the arm-rest stones beside the hearths and on some fireplaces. Geometrical patterns have been carved or chiselled on these stones. Some fountains in the pools also have ornately carved sprinklers or bowls. Some arches over the entrance doors are carVed out of stone and there are stone corbels over the chamfered street corners of some houses.
A stone-laying system frequently used in Safranbolu is the herring-bone pattern which is more of a decoration rather than having a load-bearing function.
The ironmongers have created various examples in which they gave an ornamental nature to the forms of functional elements. We can see such examples in the door handles, the scutcheons of the door latches, and the scutcheons key hole, in padlocks in wind rods and hinges, in the large capped door nails and in the andirons within the hearths. Sometimes red or green felt is placed beneath the medallions of the doorhandles which reflect a bright colour through their decorative holes.
TEXTILES and TAPESTRY
The interior decoration of homes is completed with various textiles and tapestries. An empty house soon gains a homely atmosphere when a few of these are spread around. Carpets, kilims, the spreads over the divans and curtains can be listed among these. Clothes which were once laid beneath the table were wood printed in Safranbolu.
Deer horns are hung on the corner of the eaves facing the street, trusting that they will bring good luck to the house. These horns of various sizes which can be attached to the skull of a deer but which, in most cases, consist of a single branched horn, constitute an exciting sight. In some houses skulls with deer horns are nailed onto the pediment of the bay windows or over the entrance door.