From pieces of rock he breaks in the mountainous terrain of his town in south-eastern Turkey, Turkish craftsman Arif Atun creates stone ovens that are used in making traditional crafts such as bread, meatloaf and biryan.
His skill and mastery of his work spread his fame inside and outside his country, especially as the profession, which he inherited from his father, required great proficiency. They were specifically called upon to build stone ovens in Turkey and abroad, and sometimes even exported. They built ovens for countries around the world.
He makes his living from stone
Aten (54 years old) lives in the city of Siirt in southeastern Turkey, where he continues the profession he inherited from his father and makes a living from stonework.
Early in the morning, Ataun goes to a stone quarry in a mountainous area in the rural area of the city and breaks rocks using a hammer and nails.
He then loads the rock pieces onto a tractor and returns to his workshop in the city and uses a press in his workshop to turn them into continuous pieces, and uses them on the floors of stone kilns.
Atun said he “cuts rocks into small pieces and spends most of his day crushing stones in a stone quarry.”
He told Anadolu that he comes to the stone quarry at six in the morning and stays there until four in the afternoon.
He said that despite the hardship, he earns his livelihood from this profession inherited in the family, indicating that he works 6 days a week. He told that he was keen to educate all his seven children by making a living out of stones.
Aton ovens travel around the world
Ataun reported that they built stone ovens for making bread and “meat flour” in many parts of Turkey and some countries.
“I went to South Korea, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Iraq and Syria and made ovens for bread and meat from flour,” he said, adding that Attun also sent a small, finished oven to the Netherlands.
He told that he has been working in this field since 1988, and also told that his father remained in this profession for 60 years.
He explained that he had recently renovated a stone oven that his father had built 35 years ago in the city's Bahçelievler neighborhood.
“I travel to different parts of Turkey. I cut this stone and earn my livelihood,” he added, emphasizing that crushing and shaping the stones requires great mastery.
He told that the furnaces made by him last for a long period of about 30 to 35 years.
Regarding the stone used in industry, Atun explained that it has a property that makes it hard when exposed to sunlight, and it becomes even harder when exposed to fire.
He further said, “This stone does not crack or break as long as it is touched with fire. It can be used for a lifetime if only cleaned with a wet cloth.”
special flavored food
He added: They used the same stones to build the “biryan” oven for which the state of Sirte is famous.
Sirte is famous for its “biryan” dish (called zerb in other places), which is prepared from lamb meat, where the skinned lamb is hung inside a furnace dug into the ground, at its depth. It is up to 3 meters tall, and has a diameter of 100 centimeters, and it is completely steamed.
Attoun said: “Bread and food cooked in the stone oven are more delicious, and the bread stays fresh until the next day, and the biryan is also wonderful.”