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Lületasi (Meerschaum stone)

decorative meerschaum pipe from EskisehirThe major local art in Eskisehir is Meerschaum, called as "white gold" or "aktas" or "patal" by locals. Working with meerschaum is a handicraft and special to this province.

Meerschaum may have white, yellowish, gray or reddish and mat colors. Its hardness degree is between 2-2.5, and it is lightly adhesive and porous. It is extracted from 20-60-130 meters depth of the ground as big and small rounds. Small rounds are collected by digging deep wells and tunnels connected to these wells. When first extracted from the ground, the stone is soft, but it hardens on exposure to heat or when dried.

Some wells are watery, some wells are dry. Stones of watery wells are much better. Meerschaum is produced in different places like Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Mexico, Madrid, and Nairobi; however, they are unimportant in quantity and low in quality. Meerschaum with the highest quality is found in Eskisehir. The property that while drying it keeps the remains of moisture and gases in its body, makes Meerschaum a suitable material for making tobacco pipes as well as a good filling material for absorbent, filter or isolation in industry. It became an indispensable material in industry for years. It is used in making cigarette-holder, tobacco pipe and decorative goods and in automobile paint industry. It is added to porcelain paste, insecticides, powder and stain removing medicines.

There are three geological periods in its formation:

First Order It is an ore in sandy-clay soil at 10-14 meters depth.
Second Order It forms between 40-60 meters depth. It is an ore existing in clay.
Third Order Meerschaum with the highest quality forms in Conglomerate series and it exists in 80-130 meters depth fitting with the topography. Other kinds of meerschaum are: cotton-piece, granular cast, unit unity and puny.

The places nearby Eskisehir where Meerschaum extracted from are: Sarisu, Yenisehir, Türkmentokat, Gökçeoglu, Karaçay, Sögütçük, Sepetçi, Margi, Nemli, Kümbet, Yeniköy, Kepertepe, Karahöyük and Basören.

Export of Meerschaum has brought 800-900 US dollars income between years 1978-1987. In addition to tobacco pipes, products like chess sets, bracelets, necklaces and earrings have an important ratio in export. Foreign customers are USA, Austria, Holland, Belgium and Germany. Nowadays, the amount of export is at least USD 1-1.5 million a year. Furthermore, some value is added to Turkish economy by selling handworks made by Meerschaum to tourists visiting Turkey.

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