Turkish Artisan Empties Eggshells to Make Beautiful Art

Hamit Hayran of Ankara, Turkey, is an artisan working with emptied out eggshells, bearing holes in them in intricate patterns, making beautiful art.

Hamit Hayran, 65, is a Turkish artist practicing egg art. Born in Kirsehir, in central Anatolia, he has been living in Golbasi, Ankara for 63 years. He says that he is the son of a carpenter (“may his soul rest in peace”) and that he started out working with wood.

“It was hard for me to continue education in my time,” he tells TRT World in a phone interview. “So I took up art.”

Hayran is an optimist even though he has lived through hardships in his life that would easily break a person with less enthusiasm for life. He says he was working as a foreman in construction until 1988, and that before then, around 1984, he had started working at Gazi Hospital as a technician. “I was working two jobs to make ends meet,” he says, matter-of-factly. The night shift at the hospital freed up his days where he worked construction.

One day, as he was laying a water pipe, the pipe ended up touching a high energy voltage line. “I was struck by electricity at 34,500 volts,” he says. “After this accident I came back to life, a new life, a new start. I had two daughters, and I was married. I had two options, I was either going to beg from where I was sitting, as I had a family and no income, or continue with practising art and continue my life struggle.”

Hayran lost the use of his legs after the accident, but his grip on life was strong. He says he is disabled now, but can get around with crutches. He says that “As I couldn’t accept the first choice, I said while at the dinner table: ‘Oh God, you took my legs but you did not take my mind.’ I set out to see what I could do from egg art. I had no prior knowledge, nor a master to teach me, or tools of the trade. I set out on a road which I didn’t know. The trials and errors I started in 1990 and the tools I picked up I set out on this beautiful path, egg art –– I encountered the art of patience, the delicate art, the art that gives you hope.”

“It has been 31 years since 1990. In this time period I made great strides, made great efforts, and came to these beautiful days,” he says. He credits the support of his family, his wife first and foremost, “who stood by me and didn’t leave my side”, and his two daughters who are married. “I have two sons-in-law and five grandchildren,” he beams. “They all support me.”

“I then realised egg art was also practiced during Ottoman times. I contacted the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. After 30 years, in July 2020, the ministry agreed that egg art was part of our heritage and about to be forgotten.” He adds that currently there are about 300 fine practitioners around Turkey who are learning how to make egg art.

In egg art around the world, usually they are prepared as they are done in Easter, filled with plaster after being drained, or another metal, or boiled. They are then decorated according to their beliefs and lifestyle, for example with a cross, with Jesus, or Mary, figures from nature, animals, Hayran says. “Our difference is that we use Seljuk and Ottoman motifs.”

In order to make egg art, Hayran first empties the egg with a syringe at the bottom. He doesn’t fortify the egg with lacquer or any other means, he tells TRT World. He uses micro motors used in dental laboratories (35K rpm), and aerators (350K rpm) used by dentists as he works. He says he also uses milling cutters to carry out his work. The work consists of cutting, etching, and painting as needed.

Hayran was admitted to the World Egg Artists Association in 2018: “I am the first Turkish citizen who was the 301st entry at the Encyclopedia of World Egg Artists. In February 2018, a Pakistani brother shared his art with 7500 holes. I followed him with 8708 holes in a chicken egg, becoming the world champion.

“In 2020 I prepared a beautiful piece for the Guinness Book of Records with 11,827 holes. Because I was not supported by a corporation or organisation I wasn’t able to apply. But four months ago, in 2021, a colleague sent me a private message saying he had borne 14,129 holes in an egg. I was happy that I found a worthy adversary!”

Hayran says he surpassed that record with bearing 15,055 holes on a chicken egg, same sized egg but smaller holes. “But that wasn’t enough because I believed that [my adversary] would surpass this.” Hayran started working on a new project that would take him to 17,000 holes. His aim is to enter the Guinness Book of Records.

As for the eggs, emptied by syringes and their membrane removed gently, the insides are eaten if they are fit for human consumption. If they are not, “we turn them into pieces of art.”

Hayran says he is ashamed to say it but he is not a master, nor an artist, but that he is the son of an artisan: “He who works with his hands is a worker, he who works with his hands and mind is a master, he who works with his hands, minds and soul is an artisan. I am an artisan who wishes to leave behind something of value.”

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