The Art of Oya (Bebilla, Oa, or Ougia)
by Gulen F. Tangoren, M.D.
Oya needlework probably dates back to 600 BC. Oya is
an art form, a very fine lace. The name "oya" comes from the Greek
word "oa" which means "edging" or "border." This craft has been valued
by Armenians (bebilla), Greeks (oa), and Turks (oya).
Oya is knot work produced with a simple sewing needle and
thread, although materials can include wool, horsehair, or very fine wire.
Using this technique, artisans make caps, doilies, bookmarks, edging for
scarves, chemises, edging for cloth prayer rugs, headbands, collars,
decoration on sheets and pillowcases, and more.
Turkish girls produced items using this knot work much as
Irish women knit their sweaters, passing on information about their status
and their ability to their families. These intricate needlework
objects were treasured for wedding chests and the items were handed down
from one generation to another.
Unfortunately, in today's busy society, much of this art
is being lost and is being replaced by fine crochet work.