Since 1983, in the middle of the old Mardin Bazaar, we see a small, two-storey soap shop named “Mehmet Dede”. I’m done with what comes in, an intense blend of almond and tar scents welcomes you. Because the content of the soaps it produces is natural, this shop has been selling to many regions both in Turkey and abroad for years. We talked with Mehmet Dede, whose tar-juniper soap produced by his grandfather, patented by Ankara University, about his craft, his patented soap and his lectures on soap at the university.

Mehmet Dede’s grandfather, the third generation representative of the soap craft in the family, was also named Mehmet. He took over the soap business from his grandparents and still produces soaps with his grandfather’s formula without using chemicals. They never used chemicals such as acid, caustic, sulfuric acid, paint, soap essence, which are widely used in soap making today. The difference of Mehmet Dede’s soaps also emerges at this point; they make soaps from acorn ash.

When you walk through the Old Mardin Bazaar, you will see dozens of soap varieties and soap shops. Saying that such soaps are not in the Mardin culture, Dede said, “Other soapy friends say that there are 120 types of soaps in our culture. No such thing. “We finished everything in Mardin, like tar, we produce soap from them,” he said.

Mehmet Dede says that producing soap in the family is a craft that has been going on for 130 years and for three generations. In 1883, in the Zınnar region of Mardin, Mehmet Dede’s grandfather put the bıttım bıttım, which will be salted in the annual harvest, into the water and keep it in the drums to loosen the bıttım shell and turn it into a food and snack condition. After the Bıttımlar is kept waiting, a layer of oil appears on the water, soap is made from this oil and used for its own needs. Since the Zınnar region is a suitable region for bıttım trees, the amount of product obtained at harvest time would be high. After meeting their soap needs, the family decided to open a shop in the Old Mardin Bazaar and sell the remaining soap.

Saying that the shop left by his grandfather is still standing, Dede said: “The name of the shop is ‘Abdulkadir Sabuni’. After the shop was opened, my grandfather started to produce soaps from almond and tincture (creswan). Later, my father took over and sold soap for his lifetime. As the industry developed in the late 1970s, the demand for my father’s soap shop declined. We used to produce soap with the raw material that came from my grandfather’s shop, and we still continue to do so. In 1996, Mardin was declared a tourism city. The deputy governor toured local artisans and supported us to revitalize this sector. We revived this forgotten culture. If you visit Mardin Bazaar right now, there is soap every step of the way. However, there was no soap player except us before. “

Saying that his children do not continue their profession and they choose to read different things, Dede stated that he had eleven nephews, that he transferred this craft to them and that they are currently working and producing together. Dede says there are 6 types of soap unique to Mardin. The most important soap that he sells a lot is the soap I bıttım. He tells that Bıttım trees are unique to the city since they are abundant in the Mardin region.

Stating that it was difficult to find the raw materials of some soaps he produced in Mardin, Dede said that they produced soap according to the amount produced after the annual harvest. They can no longer obtain the raw material of the tar-juniper soap patented by Ankara University from Mardin. He says that the reason for this is that the trees in the region have lost their former productivity. They buy their raw materials from Denizli and continue their production in Mardin.

Dede explains that soap making is very difficult since there is no factory in the area. With the soaps produced by Dede, they got positive results for people’s skin problems that cannot be treated with medication. Saying that he was doing his job more fondly after many positive feedbacks, Dede said, “We try to keep this craft alive as much as we can. We produce with our own formula dating back centuries. These soaps do not harm water or nature, “he said.

Referring to the characteristics of the black soap they produce, Dede said, “My grandfather and father would not sell this soap with money. It was something like a foundation for us. It would fix problems that did not go away with medication. They used to come to my grandfather when I was little. One day I would never forget one shepherd had scabies and his skin was sore. He came to my grandfather. This soap I’m talking about is black and has a heavy scent. Its foam is like yogurt. “After applying the soap and waiting until the next day, we would see that wound healed.”