Turkish Rugs — For thousands of years, Turkish rugs and carpets have been the gold standard in floor covering everywhere from nomadic huts to grand palaces. These oriental rugs are like the beautiful poetry, which are opulent work of art with each design with a deeper meaning. Whether hand knotted or flat woven, Turkish rugs and carpets are amongst the most recognized and established hand crafted work world over.
The Brief History of Turkish Rugs and Carpets
Turkish rugs and carpets, also known as Anatolian rugs and carpets are made in vast array of distinct styles originating from various regions in Anatolia. The rug-making probably has been taking place in Turkey at least as long as in Persia. After his visit in 1271 to the Turkish region, also called Anatolia, Italian traveler Marco Polo described the oriental area rugs with classic geometric designs and animal figures as the most beautiful pattern in the world.
Turkish rugs and carpets appear frequently in the paintings of well known artists in early times. In fact, German artist Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) painted the geometrically patterned rugs so often that they came to be known in the West as Holbein rugs.
Turkish rugs and carpets are indispensable choice for the Kings and the Palaces, Royalty and Connoisseurs of beauty and craftsmanship. They totally transform the spaces into totally magnificence and royalty with their rich aura, color, texture, patterns and motifs. It was primarily through Italian merchants that the Oriental rug became recognized and valued in Europe. Venice early established itself as a major trading trader with the East. Venetians spread Oriental rugs along their narrow streets, hung the rugs from windows and used them to decorated their gondolas. And by the early 16th century, fine Oriental rug collections could be found in the great courts of Europe, including those of Catherine de Medici and Charles V. The Lord Chancellor of England, Cardinal Wolsey, is reported to have purchased at least 60 Turkish rugs from a Venetian dealer to furnish his palace at Hampton Court.
At present, the oldest example known in the history of handmake rugs is the one which is exhibited in the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum in Russia. This fantastic Altai rug was discovered by the Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in the year 1949 and is known as the “Pazirik Rug”, woven around the 3rd century B.C. 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 Pazirik Tumulus have some connection to Turkish civilization.
The 16th century was the beginning of the second successful period of Anatolian rug-weaving. The rugs from this period are called “Classical Ottoman Rugs”. The reason these rugs are called “Palace rugs” is that the design and colors would have been determined by the palace artists and then sent to the weaving centers. The designs, which consisted of twisting branches, leaves and flowers such as tulips, 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 and carpets today.
In the 16th, 17th and 18th century, Gördes, Kula, Milas, Ladik, Mucur, Kirsehir, Bandirma and Canakkale gained importance as rug-weaving centers, along with Usak and Bergama. The rugs woven in some of these areas 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.
As a general rule, there are two primary kinds of Turkish rugs and carpets: Kilim rugs and Hali rugs. A Turkish Kilim rug is flat-woven while Turkish Hali rugs are knotted. It is widely believed that the oldest Kilim rug originated in Çatalhöyük around 7,000 B.C. near the middle of Anatolia. Many experts agree that Turkish tribes introduced Hali rugs to Anatolian inhabitants some time during the 12th century. Rexrugs only provides high-end hali rugs.
Today in Turkey there are some famous rug-weaving regions: Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, Hereke, Yagcioglu, Kula, Dösemealti, Taspinar, Isparta, Milas, Bergama, Canakkale, Kars, Usak, Gordes, Fethiye and Yahyali.
Classification of Turkish Rugs and Carpets
There are different types of rugs produced in Turkey and they are classified according to the materials used:
Silk on silk
Wool on cotton
Wool on wool
Viscose on cotton
Rexrugs mainly provides silk on silk and wool on wool hand knotted rugs. As silk carpet or rug, Turkish for “ipek halı”.
The Craftsmanship of Weaving Turkish Rugs and Carpets
All fine Turkish rugs and carpets are double knotted. Each piece of yarn is looped twice through the weft, making the rug more durable. Rugs elsewhere are tied with a single fiber per vertical thread.
As is known to all, the weaving of Turkish rugs is a traditional craft that young girls have taken up for centuries, taught by their mothers.
Throughout Turkey, girls begin weaving in order to prepare goods for a traditional dowry and trousseau. And in recent years, the Turkish government has sponsored through its Board of Education schools where girls can enroll in a weaving course. Students come on a daily basis to better their skills and consequently earn more by producing finer rugs.
Two kinds of knotting methods are mainly used in handmade silk carpets.
Symmetrical knots: Also known as Turkish knots, widely used in Turkey, suitable for geometrically designed carpets.Asymmetric knots: Also called Persian knots, are used most in Persia and adapt to the design patterns of the curves.
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, yellow, navy blue, gray and black, brown. Dyeing threads by using sources from nature is an art which has been practiced since ancient times. Anatolia has a large variety of plants available for dyeing purposes and this is where the craft of dyeing has been improved throughout 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 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. 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.
The most valuable, beautiful, and costly Turkish rugs and carpet are made of silk. Although they are filament-thin, they are one of the strongest natural materials known to man. And usually vintage silk carpets hold about 400 knots per square inch, this is a key factor to tell a rug’s value, along with its fiber content.
One of the most fascinating aspects of learning about Turkish rugs is discovering that the silk used comes from cocoons rather than silkworms. Farm raised, then shot with steam to shock the incipient butterfly within, cocoons are then soaked in a vat of water. Using a wide brush, a worker teases out a hair-thin thread from each cocoon and affixes it to a spinning wheel that extracts all the silk from the casing. It is then twisted, dyed, and ready for weaving.
How were Turkish Rugs and Carpets from Rexrugs Made?
Generally speaking, there are eight processes of making the hand knotted Turkish silk rugs, which are design, dying the silk yarn, preparing the loom, knotting, shearing, fringing, washing and drying. And there is lots of work in every process.
Why Choose Handmade Turkish Rugs?
There are many advantages of handmade Turkish silk rugs and carpets:
- High Quality:
Typically, the greater the number of knots per square inch (KPSI) the finer the piece: 200 knots per square inch is average; “fine” rugs may have a knot count of 400 or more. Turn back of the rug, you can count it by yourself.
A higher knot count rug is often more expensive than a lower knot count rug because weave is finer and more time has been spent on the rug. On the other hand, a rug of different origin and different design may be more expensive, even though it has a lower knot count.
And higher knot counts are found in rugs with which have floral or curvilinear patterns. The higher knot count allows leaves, flowers and curvilinear patterns to be woven in a complex manner and the curves to be formed more elegance and beauty.
Most of the Turkish rugs and carpets such as Hereke Silk Rugs and Kayseri Silk Carpets have 400 KPSI or more. You will be impressed by the details of these fine silk rugs.
- Geometry and Patterns:
Since a carpet is more of a work of art, each design has a deeper meaning. A carpet is more likely to a poem; neither can tolerate any extra element which does not contribute to its wholeness and value. Therefore, just like in a poem, each pattern of a carpet is like each verse of a poem. It is chosen for its beauty and motifs are carefully arranged to form rhymes of fascinating Turkish rugs and carpets.
Motifs in Turkish rugs and carpets are a complete language. They are very interesting fact about Turkish rugs and carpets. They are the expressions of the weaver who are generally women. In general same regions have same motifs. It is like people talking same language. Motifs depend on the period which they belong in history and the place where they live. They are live words. There are also other Turkish Tribal rugs such as Caucasian Rugs and Turkmen Rugs with more geometrical designs.
For many centuries, weaving rugs have been a way for Anatolian women to express their feelings wishes, interests, fears, fidelity and love in an authentic way. Even so, most of the motifs change from region to region; geometric designs, the central medallion design, tree of life, the prayer niches in Prayer Rugs.
- Classy and Fashion:
Turkish rugs and carpets are indispensable choice of Palace Carpets. Ottoman Sultan’s were sending Turkish rugs to other kings as a local gift. Marco Polo, during his journey through Seljuk lands towards the end of the 13C reported that the best and finest carpets were produced in Konya, Turkey.
Most of the celebrities, presidents and people who has good taste choose to have Turkish Rugs in places where they live. Oriental Rugs are always on fashion.
Turkish rugs and carpets can be great and valuable investment for future. We all know handmade silk rugs get more shinny and brighter after years. They will remain in good condition because of the natural materials. This makes them as an income generator.
- Natural Material:
Material is one of the most important criteria of determining the value of vintage Turkish Rugs. Natural materials are more durable than synthetic materials. They can last for years.
Silk has a very high tensile strength and can be twisted very finely, plus it is quite resistant.
Good quality wool comes from healthy and well fed sheep found in cold regions or at high elevations with good grazing lands and lots of water.
- Natural Dyes:
Natural dyes are so much better than synthetics. They will not change for years. In direct sunlight synthetic dyes will change their color while natural dyes get brighter and more beautiful, but natural dyes don’t come off from carpet.
- Useful and Functional:
Turkish rugs and carpets are anti bacterial because of natural materials used. It is also healthy for your families and pets. This is an important point when you consider how much time they spend on carpets.
- Valuable Forever:
Finally, Turkish rugs and carpets become more valuable as long as you use them and never lose it. It will definitely change the feeling and add flair to your space. You can choose any patterns you like on our vintage Turkish silk rugs.
Rexrugs Provides Fine Turkish Rugs at Reasonable Price
The number of knots per inch has the most influence on the cost of a Turkish rugs and carpets. Typically, silk carpets hold 400 knots per square inch. Wool and wool-and-cotton accommodate fewer knots and are relatively cheaper.
A tightly woven, intricately designed oriental Turkish silk rug and carpet not much bigger than a sheet of paper may cost more than a wool carpet big enough to cover a living room floor. Prices of small wool Turkish rugs start at a few hundred dollars and range into the thousands or more.
Rexrugs offers you the most reasonable price with the very good quality handmade Turkish silk rugs and carpets here.
How to Clean the Turkish Rug?
It’s advisable to discuss carpet cleaning with the seller and ask if there are special instructions. That said, a Turkish rug or carpet can be vacuumed daily, if you so desire. Most stains can be removed using a gentle mixture of baby shampoo and water. Some owners prefer to have their Turkish rugs and carpets professionally cleaned.
(More tips, please read The Use and Care of Handmade Silk Carpet)
View Our Best Collection of Handmade Turkish Silk Rugs and Carpets:
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