TRADITIONAL CULTURAL HERITAGE: ANATOLIAN TURKISH HAND-WOVEN CARPETS AND TURKISH KILIMS

When someone says “oriental carpets” many people are able to imagine an example of a patterned carpet. However, people who are shopping for carpets often don’t know exactly what carpets would be considered oriental and which would not. Oriental rugs are rugs that are knotted in Turkey, India, China, Tibet, and other countries in Asia. Turkish rugs are the carpets made specifically in Turkey. Therefore, while all Turkish carpets are Oriental rugs, not all Oriental rugs are Turkish carpets.

Turkish rugs are prized for their craftsmanship and design. The patterns featured on the carpets may be big and bold or small and intricate. Handmade Turkish rugs can take years to complete. The patterns on a carpet often have symbolic meaning that may depict stories from the person’s life. Before buying a carpet, the buyer should decide if they want a hand-woven carpet or a manufactured rug.

A quality Oriental carpet can last for centuries. Buyers should consider several characteristics of the rug when selecting one that may become a family heirloom passed down for generations. The first thing to consider is the fiber that was used to make the rug. Wool is the traditional material used to make Turkish carpets. Today, some carpets are made from wool, silk, or a combination of wool and cotton.

Silk rugs are made from boiled cocoons. The skilled worker uses a brush to extract the silky material from the cocoons. They are strong and the most valuable type of Turkish rugs. Buyers should beware of cheap imitations being sold as silk rugs.

Buyers looking for an Oriental carpet often prefer a Turkish rug due to the fact that Turkish rugs are double knotted. The buyers will probably notice that some Turkish rugs have vibrant colors while others have more subtle colors. The carpets that have subtle color may be ones that have been dyed with natural vegetable dyes from plants that are native to the area where the rug was made. These rugs are designed to be reminiscent of the rugs created for centuries in the region. Makers of these natural carpets prize this authenticity over the bright colors of chemical dyes.

The carpets may be a flat weave without the pile. The flat-woven carpets are called kilims. A kilim rug looks much like a Navajo rug with its geometric patterns and flat weave. These works of art frequently are used as wall hangings.

While shopping for carpet, the buyer will notice that carpets vary by knot count. The knot count is the number of knots per square inch. Experts recommend a knot count of 120 or more. Silk carpets are dense. They may have a 400 thread count or more. Some Silk Turkish rugs have up to 1200 threads per square inch.

Oriental carpets add an exotic touch to any room. By choosing a Turkish rug that is not only beautiful but a strong, quality carpet, the buyers can be assured that the carpet will be a durable and lively addition to their home decor. The Turkish rugs are works of art that not only tell a story by the weaver but can reflect the personality and creativity of the buyer.

Carpet-weaving, carried out on various types of looms without the benefit of modern appliances and demanding most meticulous handling at every stage of its production, from the preparation by the old traditional methods of the warp, weft and knot to the application of the natural dyes, is one of the few Turkish handcrafts to have continued with the same scrupulous application to detail right up to the present day.

Apart from the dyeing and weaving, which form the technical basis of the knotted carpet, the most important feature from the point of view of the cultural heritage involved is the nature of the motifs employed. The Turkish craftsman possessed the ability to imbue his hand-woven fabrics with his own identity, his social position and communal traditions. The marks stamped on the tents and horse-covers in the high-lands and summer pastures which are also to be found incorporated in their fabrics, have survived in their fabrics, have survived in the form of aesthetic variations the first inventors could never have foreseen. That is what distinguishes the Turkish carpet so very clearly from all other carpets in the world.

All Turkish carpets, from those of Eastern Turkestan to those produced in Baluchistan, Khorasan, the Caucasus and Anatolia, are characterised by the distinctive designs that raise our traditional handcrafts to the highest artistic level.

The motifs employed in Turkish carpets are so varied and can be classified into so many subcategories that they constitute, as it were, a great fan stretching from Thrace to Kars. From the Sivas region emerge the Sarkisla, Zara, Kangal and Divrigi carpets characterised by a remarkable wealth of symbolic expression forming one of the links in the rich chain of Turkish tradition.

Motifs differing markedly in form and detail can be found in Anatolian kilims from Yagcibekir to Dosemealti, from Kula to Çanakkale.

Source: Antika; The Turkish Journal of Collectable Art, May 1985, Issue: 2

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