69 years old Ahmed Usta, who lives in the Siverek province of Urfa, Western Armenia, has been creating art with famous basalt stones for 45 years. Noting that he learnt this profession from his father, the master says that his father has also learnt it from an Armenian hewer. The master told his story like this.
“My father was the first Armenian to learn this profession. Most of the stone structures in Gavar were built by Armenians. All Muslims were students of Armenians until 50 years ago. The masters of all professions were Armenians. We learnt the trade from them.
All crafts were spread by Armenians in the province: blacksmith, carpenter, baker, coppersmith. There was no Muslim craftsman. At the moment there is no other hewer but me. I am the only one left from the old ones. There was only one Armenian master carving on stone. When I grew up, there were very few Armenians left here. These people learnt the trade from their grandfathers.”
Master Ahmed said that all that was left to him by the Armenians are the hand tools that carve on the stones. The master who built many mosques and houses also took part in the restoration of historical buildings. Ahmed Usta’s biggest pain is that this work was lost to concrete.