The Magic of Turkish Carpets
I've been fascinated by Turkish carpets since my first visit to Istanbul. (And once had an epic "lost in translation" conversation with a Turkish friend about them!) At first, I was drawn to the exquisite silk carpets, watching weavers in the windows of the rug shops practicing their art. Since then, I've spent hours talking with various merchants and weavers to learn more about the history, art and culture of rug-making in Turkey.
Most Turkish carpets are made from silk or wool, and some have cotton warps (foundations). Rugs vary in quality and cost, depending on factors like:
- size - ranging from the smallest of wall hangings to enormous floor coverings.
Knotting a fine silk carpet can take an experienced weaver more than a year to complete.
- method of manufacture - hand-made or factory produced.
- construction - silk carpets are knotted, but wool carpets can be woven, knotted or embroidered. (One of my newest acquisitions [shown below] is unusual because it includes all three techniques.)
- type of knots - the Turkish double loop is renowned for it's strength and durability. Some other knots result in carpets that "shed", eventually causing the rug to take on on a moth-eaten, threadbare look.
- quality of materials - from all natural to entirely synthetic, and every combination in between.
Silk carpet woven in the classic "Garden of Paradise" pattern.
- colours - materials can be chemically or naturally dyed, resulting in an array of colour combinations to appeal to every taste.
- fineness of workmanship - the finest silk carpets contain nearly 900 knots per square centimetre!
- design - some designs are mass-produced, others are unique to a single carpet. The diversity in design means there really is something for everyone.
There's a carpet for every person.
They say that people don't pick Turkish carpets. Turkish carpets pick their people. And they also say that every carpet contains at least one flaw - because nothing in life is perfect. This 150 year old example is charming BECAUSE of it's many imperfections. Was the weaver happy? Sad? Sharing something about her life and surroundings? The more you look, the more you see!
Close up of some flaws in an old wool rug. The intricacy of the overall design suggests it was made by an experienced weaver, but the obvious mistakes suggest she was distracted during the process.
No thing, and no person, is without flaws. It's what makes each one of us unique!
(Perhaps it's because of the flaws, but this carpet has called to me since I first saw it in 2015. It's still in the showroom in Istanbul because we don't have enough floor space on Arkadaslik. But I know that one day, when the time is right, it will grace my floor.)
My tastes in carpets have evolved since my first visit to Turkey. I've gradually become a fan of wool carpets, especially OLD wool carpets, and particularly old wool carpets WITH A STORY TO TELL. Sure, I still like the perfection of a symmetrically styled silk carpet, but, more and more, I hear the voice of the weaver in the old wool ones.
The antique wool runner that lines Arkadaslik's guest corridor.
The unique wool carpet in Arkadaslik's salon features three different weaving and knotting techniques.
Each handmade rug that I own is unique, old, and willing to share its story with anyone who listens. I think THAT is the magic of the Turkish carpet.
Have you found the perfect Turkish carpet for your life? (Or more accurately, has the perfect Turkish carpet found you???) I'd love to hear your story. Feel free to send me an e-mail to connect. And, if you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it on social media!