Carpets and kilims
Various Well-Known Anatolian Rugs
There are four types of rugs produced in Turkey; they are classified according to the materials used. The categories include:
- Silk on silk
- Wool on cotton
- Wool on wool
- Viscose on cotton
Anatolian Turkish Rugs
At present, it is impossible to prove exactly when and where rug weaving began, as there is no reliable source, but it can be traced back as early the Neolithic age (7000 B.C.). The first examples consisting of warp and weft were textile products which resembled flat weave kilims. Then rugs were created by forming knots to make a pile. According to scientist, rug weaving must have originated in the dry steppe regions where the nomadic tribes lived. Central Asia was a suitable location for the first rug-weaving center because of the availability of land for herding sheep and because of the climate of the region.
Rugs have been used in the home as floor coverings, blankets, tablecloths and decorations. They acquire value as they are used, whereas most objects decrease in value over time.
The oldest example known in the history of hand-make rugs is the one which is exhibited in the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum in the Russian Federation. This fantastic rug was discovered by the Russian archaeologist Rudenko in the year 1949 and is known as the" Pazarik Rug". The majority of experts believe that there is a link between ancient Turkish culture and this particular rug; they also believe that the other items found in the Pazarik Turnulus have some connection to Turkish civilization.
Rug weaving in Anatolia first began with the arrival of the Turkish tribes from Central Asia, who settled in this region. Therefore, Anatolian rugs form a branch of ethnic Turkish rugs. Some of the oldest examples known are the eighteen surviving pieces woven by the Selcuk Turks in the 13th century. The motifs in these pieces represented in stylized floral and geometrical patterns in several basic colors and were women in Sivas, Kayseri and the capital Konya.
The art of rug weaving which began with the Selcuks continued with the Ottoman Turks. After the Selcuk Turks and before the Ottomans (during the transition period in the 14th century) animal figures began to appear on the rugs. Although very few of these exist today, they can be seen in the paintings of famous Italian, French, Dutch and Flemish painters. Due to the animal figures on these rugs, they are referred to as "Rugs with Animals".
By the 15th century, there was a wider variety of animal motifs on the rugs. A new group of rugs with a combination of animal motifs and geometrical patterns appeared around this time. These rugs were called " Holbein Rugs " since they appear in paintings by the German artist Hans Holbein. As there are no surviving examples of these rugs today, all research is carried out from the paintings. The works of artists such as Lotto, Memling, Carlo Crivelli, Rafaellino de Gardo, B.Van Orley, Carpaccio, Jaume Huguet were also important sources of research. In this century, Bergama and Usak became important weaving centers in western Anatolia.
The 16th century saw the beginning of the second successful period of Anatolian rug-weaving. The rugs from this period are called "Classical Ottoman Rugs". The reason these rug are called "Palace rug" is that the design and colors would have been determined by the palace artists and then sent to the weaving centers. this method was similar to that used in the ceramic tile production of that period.
The designs, which consisted of twisting branches, leaves, and flowers such as tulip, carnations and hyacinths, are woven in a naturalistic style and establish the basic composition of the rug. This style was continued in other regions and can be seen in Turkish rugs today.
In the 16th, 17th and 18th century, Gördes (Ghordes), Kula, Milas, Ladik, Mucur, Kirsehir, Bandirma and Canakkale (near Dardanelles Strait) gained importance as rug-weaving centers, along with Usak and Bergama. The rugs woven in some of these regions are known as "Transylvanian Rugs" because they were found in churches in Transylvania.
In the beginning of the 19th and 20th centuries, the rugs woven in Hereke (nearby Istanbul) gained worldwide recognition. These rugs were originally woven only for the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. The finest silk rugs in the world are still being woven in Hereke today.
We can identify the rugs woven in different regions as town or village rugs. The rugs woven in the agricultural areas of Anatolia owe their origins to the settlers or nomadic cultures. In Europe, these rugs (which are woven with wool on wool) are generally called "Anatolian Rugs" In towns where people have settle permanently, the rugs are woven with a wool on cotton combination.
Today in Turkey, there are regions which keep this wonderful tradition alive; such rugs are woven in Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, Hereke, Yagcioglu, Kula, Dösemealti, Taspinar, Isparta, Milas, Bergama, Canakkale, Enize, Kars, Usak, Ghordes, Fethiye and Yahyali.
The Craft of Weaving Rugs
A rug is a handicraft which consist of two parts: the skeleton of the rug, which is formed by vertical and horizontal threads called "warps" and "wefts" and the part which resembles a picture and is like velvet, which is called the "pile" of the rug, made by knotting different colors of thread. In order to form motifs, there are two knotting techniques:
- Symmetrical knotting, double or Turkish knotting. Each knot is made on two warps. In this form of knotting, each end of the pile thread is wrapped all the way around the two warps, pulled down and cut.
- Non-symmetrical or single (Persian) knotting. While one end of the thread is wrapped all the wary around the warp, the other end goes just beside the other warp. Then both ends are pulled down and cut.
The steps for weaving a carpet are written below:
- The weaving is started from the bottom of the loom. First the kilim part (flat woven part) is woven at the lower edge.
- The weaver then takes a piece of wool which corresponds with the pattern and forms a knot on two warps.
- Then she cuts the surplus wool with a knife.
- After one row of knotting is completed, she then passes a weft thread in between the front and back warps. The weft threads are used to strengthen the weaves of the carpet.
- Then she will take the "kirkit" (a heavy comb like tool) and vigorously beat down the row of knots and weft, in order to obtain the desired tightness and to make the knots and weft compact.
- Following this step, with a pair of adjustable scissors she cuts the surplus colored threads to obtain a uniform level of pile thickness.
- This process is continued until the carpet is complete.
There are two types of dyes which are used to dye wool for weaving: vegetable dyes and chemical dyes. Rugs which are made using natural dyes are the most preferred. The natural dyes are obtained from three sources: plants; animals; and minerals. Plant sources are used most widely in rug production. Some of the examples of colors obtained from plants and animal sources are: red (RUBIA TINTORIA); yellow (GENISTA TINTORIA); navy blue (ISOTIS TINCTORIA and INDIGO FERETINTORIA); gray and black (OVER LUS); brown (JUNGLAND REGIA); and red (DACHYLOPIUS COCUS). Dyeing threads by using sources from nature is an art which has been practiced since ancient times. Anatolia has a large variety of plant available for dyeing purposes and this where the craft of dyeing has been improved through centuries of experience. Plants gathered from natural sources are still widely used today.
There are many different types of motifs and emblems which can be seen on the rugs. These are classified into two groups:
- Geometrical or Stylized Motifs
- Naturalistic and Floral Designs
The motif on the rugs represent Anatolia and Central Asia and their civilizations. These compositions, motifs, and designs are not created at random by an ignorant peasant. The motifs on the rugs represent the origins and culture of a society; therefore, a rug can be considered a cultural item. Each of the designs is meaningful, not an accidental drawing. To understand the meaning of every motif would be a very long and tiring process, as there are so many of them which have accumulated throughout the centuries. The motifs on the rugs represent Anatolian, Central Asian and their civilizations. Some of the most common motifs on rugs are the TREE OF LIFE, symbolizing long life and re-birth; the HORNS OF ANIMALS, which symbolize power, HANDS ON HIPS, symbolizing female fertility and the mother of God; and the HANGING CANDLE, symbolizing the holy (eternal) light.
These weaves were constructed with two sets of threads by crossing them at 90-degree angles. In these weaves the perpendicular threads are called the warp and the horizontal threads the weft. This technique was first used for making cloth, but at the same time it set the foundation for weaving kilims. All of these productions are referred to as "flat weaves" Wooden or metal combs were used to push the weft down, so these weaves are called "combed weaves".
The etymological root the word "kilim" is not known exactly but it has be seen in the Turkish language since the 13th century. The word "kilim" is misused in other languages to refer to all flat weaves other than rugs. However, the word "kilim" is only a name for a weaving technique. Among kilims there are different makes, including "cicim", "zili" and "sumak". For centuries, these different designs were traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. Turkey is the only country in the world that has preserved all the different techniques.
These weaves are made by tribe members or by villagers for daily needs. They are named after tribes, families, villages and towns that they are made in, or even after the motifs used on them. The Yoruks and Turkomans have also placed their tribal signatures among the patterns, making these weaves cultural objects as well. According to the latest research, these motifs reflect all the rich cultural heritage of Anatolia, and for that reason each motif is a symbol or interoperation of the values that were created by people from different cultures.
The common aspect of kilims is the technical manner in which they are produced, which influences the shapes of the patterns. For this reason, the motifs were strongly stylized and were changed into geometrical forms.
Kilims are made in different colors, designs, and compositions and it is possible to find them in various sizes. In different parts of Turkey, kilims are woven with several different combinations of materials, such as all wool, wool and cotton, or all silk.
This group of weaves is often used in contemporary decorations in various locations, making them at the same time valuable objects in the field of art. For this reason, it is also proper to talk about the art of kilims in Anatolia as an art which is distinct from the art of rug-making.