Gypsy Basket-makers are leaving their trade

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Aydin, Turkey - The basket-makers living in Ilicabasi in Aydin, pointed out that they are being forced to leave their trade as they cannot compete against baskets and plastic products from China and elsewhere.

The Romanies living in Ilicabasi, explained that they have competed against plastic products before to trying to keep their trade alive, but now, as the Chinese products are commonly sold in all bazaars, their basket-making trade is being all but destroyed.

The basket-maker Rom are extremely concerned that can no longer even earn enough money to live let alone make some profit.

The basketry is the most popular characteristic trade of the Gipsies in that region, but now it is being destroyed by the introduction of cheap and nasty Chinese products, including woven baskets and not just plastic products.

First it was the advent of the use of the plastic baskets that began forving the basket-maker Rom out of the market and now all of it is being displaced by the cheap and nasty Chinese products. The basket-makers cannot compete even if all of them work all day every day.

One of the basket-makers, Ceylan Aydeniz, explained that formerly they were only making baskets to earn their living and it was enough for them but now, even they have to have lots of different trades and jobs besides making baskets, they are at the point of losing their traditional life and trades.

He said : “People used to buy handmade baskets before, but now they are preferring cheap and nasty Chinese plastic baskets. As you know, plastics are either very harmful for human health or dangerous for environment.”

And one must say that he is not wrong there in his assumption as to plastics, especially when they come from China and that also might apply to woven baskets that are imported from that country. The manufacturing process in China use stuffs that would not be permitted in Europe, for instance, as we have seen with the lead in paints on toys, etc.

Maybe, just maybe, there could be a field here for a Fairtrade operation, bringing such Romani produced handmade wares out of Turkey to the rest of the world.

It is clear also that the Romani folks over there in Turkey – as everywhere – cannot always think that they can continue with their old ways in this modern world. Adaption is necessary, and this includes education in many areas. However, such crafts, made from natural materials, should be encouraged and supported and ways should – nay must – be found to do just that. It is being done for Africans and other peoples; why not for the Gypsy and his crafts and trades?

© 2009