These white stones are unique to Mardin. Yusuf Kırdır (69) is one of those local Mardin stoneworkers who has been crafting stones for the past 54 years. Speaking to an Anatolia news agency reporter, Kırdır said those who learn this art find it impossible to leave and that he is doing everything he can to ensure that the next generation learns about this craft.
Kıdır notes many of Mardin’s historic buildings use crafted stones and that he himself learned this particular art from his uncle, Celil Ildoğan, who he calls “a stone philosopher.” Kırdır notes that when stones are first removed from the ground in Mardin, they are so soft they can be cut like cheese and thus shaped very easily, too. He says that after the stone is exposed to sunlight and air over time, its shape begins to harden. Kırdır says that many of the historic buildings, mosques, madrassas, minarets and many homes too in Mardin all boast stones that he himself was responsible for shaping.
‘’I always smile on these stones. When I sit and look at a stone that I have shaped, it is though it is smiling back at me. When I pass by a historic structure, a mosque or a cemetery, those stones literally talk to me. We greet each other, we have conversations back and forth. When talking about stones, it is difficult to describe the pleasure and satisfaction they provide. I have been shaping stones for 54 years, and I will continue for the rest of my life. If I were to come again to this world, I would choose to do this work again. One of the special characteristics of Mardin stones is that they are so much a part of local people and their lives. The stones would be angry if there weren’t people living in that home, and the home would shortly after start to fall apart, crumble. The breath of people is what nourishes those stones on the insides of homes. In stonework, we tend to use prayers for abundance, water drops, animal figures and sun motifs from the past. And of course, when there is a request for a special, specific motif, we do that, too,” he says.