All your Questions about Turkish Rugs Answered - Part 1

Our trip this month in Cappadocia (more about our trip here) brought about a whole new understanding and appreciation of Turkish rugs and traditions behind them. My artisans took me on an adventure learning about the different types of Turkish rugs and how to tell which region a rug was made in. I learned about the history and importance of rug weaving in Turkey and the efforts individuals and the government are making to keep the tradition of rug weaving alive in the country. I even got to visit a women's rug cooperative and see them work a gorgeous custom-designed Oushak runner and another huge and colorful area rug (video of their mesmerizing work at the bottom of this post!).

turkish rugs red vintage carpetturkish rugs vintagered turkish rugs vintagevintage turkish rugs cave cappadocia

Turkish rugs have long been the flooring standard, from nomad tents to royal palaces. And for good reason. A machine-made rug might last for a few years; whereas, a handwoven Turkish rug will last centuries and acquire increasing value. 

The tradition of rug weaving has long been passed through the homes of many families across Asia. In fact, centuries ago, a woman had a better chance of getting married if she was a skilled carpetmaker and could offer her handmade creations as her dowry.

Not only will a hand-woven carpet last for a long time, but it can also add significantly to your home or office decor and be a great investment. In this post, I’m getting into the nitty-gritty on everything you need to know about Turkish rugs so that you too can appreciate the value and traditions of these special pieces of art.

1. Type of rugs

Turkish rug varieties are generally separated into kilims and carpets. Kilims are woven with a flat-weave technique that produces no pile and can be reversible. Carpets, on the other hand, are tied with a Turkish double knot and feature a very short pile. Although thicker than kilims, Turkish carpets’ pile is much shorter than traditional Moroccan rugs.

2. Region

Turkish rugs, funnily enough, do not all come from Turkey. Collectors throughout centuries have gathered rugs from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan that might be sold as Turkish rugs. Within Turkey, each region has distinctive materials, colors, and motifs that they use in their rug weaving.

Oushak rugs, for example, originated in the town of Oushak, Turkey and have been greatly influenced by Persian rug designs.

oushak turkish rug

Kirshehir rugs from the famous rug town of the same name located in central Turkey have been influenced by rug designs and patterns from Iran, as Kirshehir was on the silk trading route.

oushak kayseri turkish rugs pair vintagekayseri oushak turkish vintage area rug

Herki rugs, from southern Turkey and northern Iraq tend to have exciting vibrant colors paired with layers of geometric patterning. 

herki vintage turkish runner colorfulherki turkish runner vintage pink purpleherki turkish kurdish vintage rug runner redherki turkish runner vintage red herki runner turkish vintage rug

5. Pattern and motif

Carpets were traditionally a means for women weavers to express emotions and stories from their own lives as they were weaving. The motifs within the patterns were traditionally used to inform and communicate ideas, such as fertility, the tree of life, or protection against the evil eye, serving as a sort of history book or diary into the woman weaver's life. 

Turkish rugs area accent vintage oushak herki persianTurkish oriental persian rug vintage oushak

4. New Rugs

For the new collections, Souks du Monde works directly with a women’s cooperative whose goal is to continue the heritage of traditional rug weaving in Turkey, a practice that is losing prevalence in the country. The cooperative is equipped with looms much larger than what the women can fit in their homes, whereas most homes that do have a loom will have one of a very small size. The coop also allows women to learn a new skill while getting compensated for their weaving, as they work in classrooms paid for and provided by the government to keep the tradition alive.

 woman weaver turkish rug oushaka

We got to see a weaver at work, and the speed at which she works was mesmerizing (see the video below!). Even still, the women weave about a foot of a runner per week. It takes several months for small decorative pieces to a year or more for carpets larger than twenty square feet. The scope of work that goes into each rug helps you understand why these treasured pieces can come with a hefty price tag!

 


Here are some of the vintage and new Turkish rugs I picked out while we were in Cappadocia. I'm excited to get your feedback, so let me know in the comments which one(s) catch your eye the most!

I hope you learned something new in this run-down! I'll be following up next week with Part 2 to this post with a trip to a rug hospital to see how vintage rugs are fixed-up to make them as good as new!

I would love to know what you found to be the most interesting or surprising detail about these rugs! If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below!

If you follow me on Instagram, you can also find more video captures of this trip saved in the “Cappadocia” saved stories and more rugs and rugs inspiration on the daily.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing!

 

1 comment

  • This was a great blog. I love the behind the scene perspective and the history behind the rugs. A whole new respect of those that create these gorgeous pieces of art!

    EBONY

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