Turkish Rugs


    Cannakkale is Turkish for “pottery castle”. A town on district of northwest Anatolia, locataed on the Dardanelles. Rug weaving is an ancient craft in Cannakkale, some examples from the area having been woven in the 15th century. With Cannakkale rugs we move right away from the sphere of the new manufactured Anatolians, to an example of those richly imaginative and powerfully expressive rugs which spotlight the deep relationship between Anatolia and the Caucasus. Such pieces maybe found in many parts of Turkey, from the Kazaks of Kars, to the types unique to the Bergama region. What is striking about Cannakkale is the amazingly coarse stitch, which achieves a design of such character and authority. The construction is unlike other Anatolians, having a very large number of wefts between each row of knots, so that the pile is very loose. Its function is more decorative than durable. A common feature of older Turkish rugs is the wide kilim skirts at both ends. The square shaped format is typical of this kind of Carrakkale. The design is derived ultimately from the early Turkoman rugs. Rugs of the 19th and 20th centuries are coarsely woven on a wool foundation with red wefts. Knot densities are about 40 to 80 symmetric knots per square inch. The number of wefts varies between rows of knots. Ends are usually a red plain weave. These rugs may be termed “Bergama”.


    A town of south western Anatolia, just north of Antalya. In Turkey the design that is closes in appearance to Luri style is the Dosemealti. The name refers to an Anatolian village in which several variants of two designs are woven. One made up of latch hooks forming a tree like shape, the other having bold medallions on a plain field. Dosemealti produces exiting and expressive forms out of the simplest geometric motifs. The key to its effectiveness is the openness and bold simplicity of the layout, and the significance of the motifs, which at one moment resemble some form of tree of life, at others shady trees in a park, and at others a purely abstract elaboration of related motifs. Goods from this village have several characteristic features. The ground is almost always red, rather bright and hard when the rug comes off the loom, but with age and careful washing this becomes a warm brown red or rose shade. The corners of the ground maybe dark or medium blue, or maybe rich, warm bottle green. The border design and all wool structure are sure indicators of the Dosemealti origin.


    A town (formally Avunya) south of Cannakkale in Antalya serving as a collection point for rugs woven in the area. Only a few miles from Cannakkale in northwest Anatolia, but worlds apart in cultural significance, lies the village of Ezineh. There is something to be said in favour of a rug that does not seek to hanker after the aspirations it cannot hope to achieve. A comparison of other pieces reveals that Ezineh is content to present a simplified resume of the basic elements of the Turkish geometric layout. The structure is the same of many modern Turkish types, all wool coarse and double wefted, with a fairly flat back and low pile. The colours are very distinctive, as most pieces have only four or five shades, red, light and dark blue, white and camel. The unusual idea of repeating the triangular corners of the ground, as a frame around the central medallion adds further emphasis to what is already quite a strong motif, based on a hooked diamond. The success of this design lies in the conversion of the dominant rectangle into a hexagon, by the light and airy lattice work pendants, which is skilful designing not often found in such less expensive rugs. Enzineh rugs are best-described as soundly, unaffected rugs which are not too expensive but cheerful. They are about half the price of new Shiraz goods, and are much preferred because, unlike Shiraz goods, they do not pretend to express more than technical limitations will allow. The designs are drawn from the ancient traditions of northwest Anatolia.


    Ghiords is in the Izmir region of western Anatolia. A town of western Anatolia to which many prayer rugs have been attributed. Rugs have been woven in the area of Ghiords since the 18th century. The early prayer rugs have a curvilinear mihrab with panels at the top and bottom of the mihrab. In the 19th century, copies of these rugs were woven in Kayseri, Hereke, Bandirma and other locations. Also from Kayseri in central Anatolia, there are very fine rugs in natural silk, based in the same way on ancient designs. The workmanship is of the highest quality, in many ways equalling that of Hereke, although the average Kayseris is less fine. Ghiordes is less well known, but exactly comparable, producing fine silk rugs. Knot densities are about 100 to 200 symmetric knots per square inch.


    A town in western Turkey about 45 miles from Istanbul. The most elaborate Turkish designs are made in Hereke, which produces several types of wool and silk goods, concentrating on the finest and most expensive grade of all silk rugs. Hereke carpet production began with the establishment by Sultan Abdul Hamid in 1890, as an extension of the existing textile works. Pieces produced before the First World War now fetch very high prices. From the beginning the designs were based on the ornate style of Bursa and Cairo. There has always been a great manufacturing tradition in Turkey, and sixty years ago towns like Izmir and Sparta had as large an output and great designs as Tabriz or Kashan. The whole Turkish production collapsed in the 1920’s after the Greek Turkish war. It was not until the 1960’s that renewed demands lead to the revival that has now started up again. All parts of Turkey have benefited from this new interest. A wide range of tribal and peasant goods in geometric designs, are being manufactured in places like Kula and Hereke, which are capable of producing any design. Of all these, Hereke is the acknowledged leader. Hereke makes the best rugs in the Orient. The materials and colourings are excellent, and design imaginative and wide ranging. Other pieces have been inspired by Persian rugs of the same era. In the course of time, modern designers have added their own influences, still within one basic floral style. Prayer rugs predominate, but there is still a sizable output of small pieces in the medallion style. Rugs produced at the National Manufactory have the inscription “Hereke” woven into the border. The location and style of the inscription has varied. Currently the inscription, in Latin capitals is in the top left border. The Hereke wool rug may be refered to as “Tokat” and typically has a knot density of about 230 symmetric knots per square inch on a cotton foundation.


    A town of eastern central Anatolia, south-west of Sivas, where prayer rugs with stepped mihrabs are woven. In Kavak carpets, we encounter a green ground, not a common colour, since green is a special colour of the prophet. In Turkey, where the peasant rugs use a wider range of colours, than is found in the village products of Persia, green is less rare. The use of a ‘tree of life’ motif is quite common in prayer rugs. The large number of borders used in the Kavak piece is a characteristic feature of Turkish prayer rugs. Rugs like this may well be woven from the weaver’s head, without any guidance of design paper.


    The modern name Kayseri is derived from the epithet Caesarea applied by the Romans to the city of Mazaca in the first century B.C. Kayseri is in the Anatolian region of Turkey. The largest ranges of prayer designs are woven in Turkey. Kayseri most definitely does not belong to this category. The design itself is ancient, examples of which maybe up to 600 years old, and have been preserved, having been used in Mosques, for several men praying at once. The design is also made in wool in Kayseri as well as other places. There is no fixed rule about the colourings. In the artificial silk goods of Kayseri, much use is made of pastel shades and strong yellow, and there is no shade that won’t be used in these goods. Apart from the fine natural silk rugs, and the coarse artificial silk production, Kayseri also produces manufactured carpets with a wool pile on cotton warps in a range of designs. Carpets and rugs are produced, but not over about 7 meters squared in area. The price is considerably lower than for the Tabriz carpet of equal fines and the colours are usually better balanced.


    A city of western central Anatolia (ancient Iconium). Konya lies in close proximity to Ladik, which was the Seljuq capital from 1097-1307. Some of the oldest known carpets of the Islamic world are from Konya. Rugs have been woven in Konya and the surrounding area from the time of the Seljuks (late 11th century). 18th and 19th century rugs are of earth tones: brown, green ang mustard. Some have an apricot field. Contemporary production consists mainly of prayer rugs with a red ground, yastiks (cushion face or pillow 3’x1½’) and mat sizes. These may be woven in nearby towns such as Ladic, Kecimusta and Obruk. Their strict geometric style is an unmistakable documentation of the Turkoman connection. Konya rugs have a distinctive border, which has a red pattern on a dark blue ground, which is a typical feature of the current Konya production. Konya kilims are slit-tapestry woven in two pieces. The Soumak structure may be used to outline some designs. The most distinctive feature of Konya kilims is their white ground. Konya remains the marketing centre of one of several important collecting points in Central Anatolia.

  • KULA

    A town of western Anatolia south of Demirci ,about eighty miles east of Izmir. There are 18th century rugs attributed to Kula. Kula has a large manufacturing output. The only established design tradition these days that only other people’s designs are produced. As they do this very well. It is very difficult for the layman to recognise the stylistic difference. The designs are single mihrab rugs similar to early rugs of Ghiordes, only the field is frequently occupied by a vase of flowers. The geometric style of Kula is similar to Caucasians designs. To distinguish a Kula from a Caucasian is fairly easy, as all new Caucasians have cotton warps and wefts, and Kulas, like almost all Turkish goods, have warps and wefts which are woollen. Early rugs have a knot density of about 120 knots per square inch and later rugs have densities of about 50 knots per square inch. Hundreds of other designs are available, drawing on the full range of the Azerbaijan style. Currently, rugs of higher quality are woven in Kula.


    In Eastern Anatolia, the rugs of the Turkish Kurds are quite different from those of almost all their Persian neighbours. Firstly, they always have woollen warps and two woollen wefts. Secondly, the weave is generally looser, often giving the rugs a rather shaggy appearance. Most obvious, however, is the colour. The rusty orange tone, which is prominent, is the most striking feature. Some rugs from this region even have orange warps. The designs reveal the Azerbaijan connection. There is a wide variety of geometric designs, diamonds, Memling gul and others used in these rugs. The quantities produced are small, the production of flat weaves is much more important. Therefore rugs seen in the West usually have considerable individual character. Rugs, runners, and above all, kelleyis (narrow runner in which the length is at least twice the width) resembling those of Azerbaijan are often found. In the early 20th century, many Kurdish runners were exported from the area.


    A town of south-west Anatolia. Rug weaving may have begun in milas as early as the 17th century. The precise origin of Milas is not recorded, but the district of south-west Anatolia there lies, variant Lydia, including the valley of the River Maeander, was settled by the Hellenes in the second millennium BC. The principle town was Miletus, one of the greatest cities of the Ionian districts, and a port with a flourishing trade in the Mediterranean. The catastrophe of the Greek-Turkish war (1922-23) followed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, after the First World War, robbed the area of many of its weavers, who, were of Greek origin, fled to the safety of Greece. The textile tradition of the region goes back more than 3,000 perhaps 4,000 years, which makes it probably the oldest of today’s carpet producing areas where textile weaving can be proved. Nevertheless, the region remains famous for its slit-kilim tapestries. In terms of pile rugs, Milas is known largely for one style only, prayer rugs. It is quite common for the borders to be so dominant as to swamp the ground of the rug almost entirely. The bold geometric border and open layout in the ground are other distinguishing features. Designs of rugs from Milas and surrounding villages include prayer rugs with a diamond shaped mihrab derived from Ottoman horse shoe shaped mihrabs. The easiest way to recognise the new Milas rug is by their colouring. No other place produces quite the combination of grey green, grey, rust, dull yellow and brown. Like all Turkish village rugs, the Milas goods have woollen warps and wefts, the pile is usually clipped very thin. The range of sizes woven is very limited. Almost all the production is in the seccadeh (4½’x6½’) size. Milas rugs are all wool with red wefts. Most rugs are coarsely knotted with densities varying between 55 and 75 symmetric knots per square inch.


    A town of central Anatolia. In the Anatolian village of Ortakoy a simpler, coarser and cheaper rug is made, in garish colours. Like the rugs of Ezineh, the Ortakoys are mass-produced. By keeping to the confines of their own style and technical limitations, they avoid pretentious anonymity, and preserve that appealing individuality which is the character of the peasant rugs of Anatolia. Ortakoys have a very simple, yet effective border; the colourings are light and bright. The bulk of the production is in sizes with an area of about 2 meters squared. Another variety of this style is made in Kirsehir.


    A village in south central Anatolia. Taspinar is located to the west of Yahyali, between the two is Nigde, which acts like a market centre for both. Turkey is the home of the geometric medallion plain design. Examples from several villages will be found, all with a marked family resemblance, and all having their own individual traits. A characteristic trait of Taspinar rugs, is the narrow leaf scroll panel inserted at both ends of the ground before the end borders. The village of Taspinar produces a similar design, but in a somewhat looser weave and in gaudier colours. A hard bright red is common.


    Yagcibedir is in Western Anatolia. The origin of this rug is unmistakable, when you put together all the following elements. The woollen warps and weft, fine weave, close clipped pile of fine lustrous yarn, dark blue ground and also cream, the skeletal hexagonal medallion, leaving the ground, and the medallion of the same colour, red or rust leaf and the tree motifs, and a large number of geometric borders. The design has something of a Luri feel about it, the colours and structure remind us of the Beluchis. The thousands of pieces woven each year all include some variant of the same design. Contemporary designs include copies of the Eagle Kazak. Common designs are a hexagon medallion with stepped ends filled with geometric flowers, and a prayer rug with stepped mihrab filled with 8 pointed stars. Yagcibedir colours vary according to the method of washing used. Unwashed the rugs have a fierce red, which against the blackish blue, is not very popular in Western markets. Washed in Turkey, the red is softened, or maybe bleached to an attractive silvery grey. The best colours are obtained by the London wash, which produces beautiful rosy rust shades, which are neither too red nor too pale. A Yagcibedir rug emphasises the very important role played by colour. The colour combinations and colour balance is the appeal of Oriental rugs. The only sizes made are 100 x 60 cm, narrow runners up to 300 x 50-60 cm and typical Turkish small seccadehs 180 x 120 cm. Some older examples may have a line of variously dyed angora wool knotted on the back of the rug. Warp ends are plaited and tasselled. Knot densities are between 40 to 50 symmetric knots per square inch.


    A town near Nigde in central Anatolia. Turkey is the home of the geometric medalion-plain design. There are several villages all with a marked family resemblence and all having their own individual traits. Rugs made in the neighbourhood of this town are generally in red, blue and yellow. They all have a double wefted all wool construction. The Yahyali design is easily recognised by its angularity. The colour is an indicator of the origin. The ground is either deep scarlet or a dull mauvish red, and both are unmistakable. There is almost always a thin line of bright gold, with a small but highly distinctive feature, another bright green in the subsidiary shades. The wool is of above average quality and the weave is finer and tighter than that of most new Turkish village types. The typical rug includes a hexagon medallion with pendants, on a red field.


    The nomads of Anatolia are racially so mixed that it is often impossible today to apply a specific name to them. Therefore they are simply known under the generic name of Yuruk, which means ‘mountain people’. The charming, simple rugs of Yuruk are something of a rarity. Its origin may perhaps be sought in the trademark of three camels being led by a man, of one of the great manufacturing companies established in Anatolia before the First World War. The peasant weaver perhaps thought this simple pattern would be a good basis for a design into which he could also introduce his own imaginative embellishments. Their weaving techniques include pile weaves, weft float brocade, tapestry weave, soumak and tablet weaving. Their weavings are all wool. Motifs are mainly geometric, floral and animal abstracts. Yuruk rugs are woven in a wide variety of designs and colours.