Since Oya is a beloved technique close to my heart and graces many of my designs, I felt the urge to offer you a brief insight into the captivating world of Oya.



Oya lace is a centuries old, traditional technique found almost everywhere in Turkiye. 'Oya' is short for igne oyasi (pronounced eeneh-oyasi), which loosely translates to “to embellish, to craft something that takes time.” The tools used to make it differ from village to village. Mostly short sewing needles, sometimes fine crochet hooks are used, but it is not unusual to see the lace made with wooden shuttles.

Today, women in Anatolia and throughout Turkish villages still practice Oya as a way to decorate scarves and headdresses, to trim items for a bride’s trousseau, and to create intricate jewelry.

Oya, besides being a distinctly Mediterranean form of artistic expression, is also a complex secret language. Women would craft their Oya-trimmed pieces to subtly tell the world that they were engaged, married, pregnant, widowed, in mourning, and even specifically if they were awaiting their betrothed who was away serving his military duty. Each ornament and also the colors have a specific emotional message or meaning. 

The repetitive nature of the Oya technique requires artisans to develop incredible patience and self-discipline, so much so that the term has become synonymous with painstakingly difficult tasks within the Turkish language. For example, the idiom 'oya gibi' can be best translated as 'to be difficult like Oya.' Similarly, the verb 'oyalamak,' though directly translated as 'to put off or delay,' is generally used to describe a task that seems to keep taking more and more time to complete.