Sunday, 23 February 2014

Turkish Carpets; an Anatolian Poem

A hand woven carpet or a kilim is the story of goats & sheep being raised, sheared; collecting raw materials, experience and knowledge of ingredients, methods and recipes for dyeing, days and nights of spinning, combing and weaving, traditions passed on from one generation to the other, over the centuries. It’s the journey of fleece becoming an object of protection from hard weather conditions; it’s the thousands of knots making part of a dowry; sometimes, the tale of women weaving their emotions into an item of garment for next generations.

Why is carpet more expensive than kilim?
Kilims are formed with flatweaving; meaning the rope travels between warps & wefts without knots. As for the carpets, with each or every other warp, at least one knot is required. The work for carpets consumes much more time and effort than it does for kilims.

What determines the price of a carpet?
Number of knots per square inch is the primary factor. The higher number of knots, mean a finer carpet. Just like a fine digital image of higher resolution, with bigger number of pixels on the digital display...
  • Elements used: Is it hundred percent wool, what kind of wool? Silk or is it mixed with cotton? Synthetic dye or natural dye?
  • Design: Curvy patterns like floral designs need more knots than straight lined geometric shapes.

If you are to buy an old one, then of course, the age and the condition of the rug, it’s availability in the market and the demand for it should all be considered.

How will you know you are paying the fair price for the carpet you desire?

Unless you are an expert, you will never know! There is no fixed rate of labor and emotions reflected on these marvels. Having knowledge, reading books about weaving will only be theorically informative. Just like choosing the wine; takes years of tasting, smelling and looking into the glass, expectations of evaluating the carpet, will not be instantly fulfilled. Certain certifications like Dobag can guarantee that you are not making a mistake on a purchase from a Dobag dealer; but to truely understand and value a carpet or a kilim completely on your own is a long journey. With today's modern techniques, it may even be difficult for the naked eye to distinguish the hand woven from the machine woven, the natural dye from the synthetic dye. So I would say, if you wholeheartedly like it, buy it. In other words, trust your dealer with all your heart. Carpet sellers are supposed to be very informative, like the most in Turkey are. They are welcoming, yes, their aim is to sell you carpets and kilims, but either you buy or not, they should be willing to answer your questions and show you examples. So take your time and enjoy the chat, and maybe with even a glass of Turkish tea or a cup of Turkish coffee.