November 20, 2007

Turkish Carpets and Rugs

Books have been dedicated to this subject alone, so it is impossible to do justice to the culture behind the art of carpet making, we can only scratch the surface of this subject.
Symbolism plays a big part in Turkish Carpets, and wherever possible, we have attemped to interpret the symbols and provide a brief description and meaning for each product. Due to individual weavers interpretations and and the abstract nature of some symbols it is not alway possible to do this.Additionally some designs are made up of purely geometric patterns.
There are two basic products available, the familiar carpet or rug which has wool knotted into the base to form the pile, and the kilim, where the pattern is an intrinsic part of the base weave, and no knotted wools is used, which results in a "flat" weave. Kilims are more popular in warmer climates, but are becoming increasing more popular as timber based floors gain popularity. Additionally, it is not uncommom for a kilim to be used as a wall decoration.

Considerations in carpet design
The first stage in carpet weaving is to decide on a design or a motif. In regional carpet production, experienced weavers create the design as they weave, whereas in the production of tightly knotted carpets a pattern to refer to is necessary. As a result of long years of research and labour, almost all of the designs of old Turkish carpets are available, but with a modern approach and new concepts. Also new motifs have been developed, derived from the old patterns, so still maintaining the traditions. There's a great variety of motifs of geometric designs. Stylised animal, human and plant motifs are found scattered among the geometric designs, and the colours used bring out these motifs.
Some of the carpets with floral designs exhibit such harmony and colours that they resemble flower gardens. The carnival of flowers, branches and plants that covers the surface of the carpets is always framed by a complementing design.
The most important element in design is proportion. The design should be weaved in such a manner that there should be no irregularities in the corners. The carpets with a "mihrab" design (seccade) may have different designs in or around the "mihrab", and decorations of Arabic letters may be seen in the borders. The design is first created in sections on paper and placed on the loom to guide the weaver. As the carpet increases in size, so the number of these sections increase too. The second most important element is the material used, which varies according to the type of carpet. It may be wool, pure silk, cotton, or silk like cotton called floss. Bursa is one of the few centres of silk production in the world, and for centuries, the pure silk produced here has been used in the making of handmade Turkish carpets. The real beauty of silk comes out best of all in these magnificent looking rugs and wall carpets, these are deemed the highest quality carpet available. Lamb's wool though, is the most popular material used. The grasslands of the Anatolian plateaux are the reason behind the durability and sheen of the wool. The wool used in carpet production must be special: strong and soft. In certain regions, the wool, as in the old days, is spun by hand to make the yarn used in carpet weaving. Today, textiles are a major industry in Turkey, and the country is a leading cotton producer.

Carpet production
In carpet weaving, the base (warp and weft) is constructed of cotton; wool is then knotted onto this to form the pile. Such handmade carpets made of both cotton and wool, are as attractive and durable as the others. Floss is used only in Kayseri carpets, and it makes up the pile. As floss is easily dyed, bright and attractive carpets in a variety of colours are produced by using floss.
Knotted carpets are woven on a loom consisting of horizontal bars, onto which the warp threads are stretched. Onto these threads, the pile knots are tied according to the pattern. The thread ends, which make up the pile, are clipped off to get a velvet like soft surface. Thus, the motifs are made up of thousands of individual knots. The tighter the knots, the finer and stronger is the carpet. The pleasure one gets from a beautiful carpet equals the pleasure one gets from a beautiful painting.
The double knot, known as the Turkish or Gordes knot, is used in all typical Turkish carpets. Another well known system is the Sehna or Persian knot. The Turkish knot is wrapped around two warps and the Persian knot around a single warp. A kilim, which is similar to a carpet, is woven on the loom but with a different technique; knots are not used. The Gordes knot makes a carpet stronger, firmer and more durable, while the Sehna knot allows the weaving of different patterns. However, once a carpet is made it is difficult to determine the knotting system used.

Regional influences
The colours also are characteristic of the region where the carpet is made. The threads used in the weaving of antique carpets used to be dyed with natural dyes, the formulas of which were known only by the family that manufactured the carpet. Today, chemical dyes are used along with vegetable dyes. Natural dyes are produced from leaves, roots, and fruits. Many of the villages engaged in carpet making have a grazing land called "Boyalik". Plants from which dyes are made are grown there. The various formulas for dye production have been passed down from generation to generation. Thus the colours traditional to Turkish carpet production have survived till today. Red is dominant in Turkish carpets. This striking colour expresses wealth, joy and happiness. Green symbolises heaven; blue nobility and grandeur; yellow is believed to keep evil away, and black symbolises purification from worries.
Handmade carpets are generally called after the region or town where they are produced. Contemporary carpets are made in various sizes and with combinations of different materials. In some regions, the threads used in weaving and the knots may be only wool, and in other regions, the base may be cotton and the knots wool. In still other regions pure silk is used in the weaving of carpets.

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