Rugs and Carpets

Rugs are often interchanged with carpets. Although given that there is a wide range of designs to choose from, unlike wall-to-wall carpets that area permanently attached, rugs don't only serve as a kind of flooring but it can also be a decorative additions to dull walls inside a home.

There are two principal types of knots that are used in rug weaving. The first one is called double knot, Turkish knot, or Gordes knot and naturally given a firmer weave yielding to a stronger and more durable carpet. The second one is known as the single knot, Persian knot, or Sennah knot.

The Turkish knot is standard of yarn encircling two warp threads, with the loose ends rawn tightly between the two warps. The Persian knot is a strand of yarn that encircles one warp threads and winds loosely around the other warp. One loose end pulled through the two warps, while the other end goes to the outside of the paired warps.

Designs can be applied to the rug by means of various techniques. One technique involves designing a pattern directly, without the use of drawing or design. Another technique consists of copying a design drawn on a piece of paper.

No one knows precisely when and where the technique of weaving first started, there is no doubt that the art of weaving started in several areas around the world and at different times. Using DNA Testing, weaving samples have been dated in Turkey to 7000 to 8000 BC.  In those days, the migrating tribes were exposed to severe weather conditions, and learned to use goat hair in the making of their tents. 

None of us know exactly when and where the first knotted-pile carpets were woven. However, the oldest “surviving” pile carpets were discovered in the grave of a Scythian Prince of the Altai Mountains In 1947 in Siberia, by the Russian archeologist Sergei Rudenko and are presently displayed in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. The carpet was woven with the Turkish double knot and contains a surprising 347.000 knots per square meter (255 per square inch); it is 3.62 square meters (6 x 6.5 feet) and has been carbon dated to have been from the 5th. century BCE. The grave was looted and subsequently flooded by water, which froze. The Pazirik (or Altai) carpet is rather sophisticated, thereby showing that it is the product of a long history and tradition of weaving.

During the time of Seljuk Empire and before they came to Anatolia, Turks reigned or Iran (Persia) and the Caucasus region for several centuries. The art of weaving was introduced to Anatolia by the Seljuks toward the end of the the beginning of 12th century. In addition to numerous carpet fragments, many of which are yet to be documented, there are 18 carpet and fragments which are known to be of Seljuk Origin. The technical aspects and vast variety of designs used proves the resourcefulness and the splendour of Seljuk rug weaving. Oldest examples of Turkish rugs, with symmetrical Turkish knots, were made in the 13th century, during the time of Anatolian Seljuks who came to Anatolia before Ottoman Turks and established a sultanate lasting 150 years. Eight of these rugs were discovered by the German Consul, Loytved, 1905 the great mosque of Alaeddin in Konya. This great discovery drew the attention of a Swedish researcher, Martin, who was the first person to realise the importance of these rugs. Upon the request of the Swedish king photographs and water colour pictures of these rugs were produced. This was how these rugs were introduced to the rest of the scientific world. In 1914, Seljuk rugs were transferred to Istanbul. In our time these rugs are displayed in the museum of Turkish Islamic Arts. These rugs, woven in the capital city of Seljuks or in the town of Aksaray, are known as Seljuk rugs.

Turkey’s rug-making tradition is as old as Persia's. Turkish rugs are mainly based on geometric motifs, frequently of a prayer niche design. The colors most frequently used are red and blue. Green, their sacred color, is used on prayer rugs. There are four types of Turkish rugs; they are classified according to the materials used. The categories include: Silk on silk, Wool on cotton, Wool on wool, Viscose on cotton, Kilims, Tulu, and Anatolian Turkish Rugs.

Oushak rugs originated in the small town of Oushak in west central Anatolia, roughly 100 miles directly south of the city of Istanbul in Turkey. Oushak has produced some of the most decorative Persian influenced rugs of all times. Oushak has been a production center of Turkish rugs since the 15th century. In the late 15th century a veritable "design revolution" took place. Traditionally, producing carpets was part of the nomad culture, meeting people's daily needs, but for the first time the works of designing and weaving rugs were split in two. These Turkish rugs began to be produced commercially. Oushak was the center of this new method of production because it had easy access to wool (the best Turkish wool comes from Balikesir, Oushak and Kütahya), natural dyes, and from there the international market could be accessed as well. From the 16th up to the 18th century the most famous manufacturers of Ottoman times worked in Oushak. Until today the Oushak rugs (Uşak, Ushak) are much in demand and sold at the big auctions. Old Oushaks are 100% wool and of very high quality.

The first industrial weaving workshop in Turkey was established in 1843. In Hereke, a small coastal town 60 kilometers from Istanbul on the bay of Izmit. It also supplied the royal palaces with silk brocades and other textiles. Known as the Hereke Imperial Factory, the mill was subsequently enlarged to include looms producing cotton fabric. Silk brocades and velvets for drapes and upholstery were manufactured at a workshop known as the “kamhane”. In 1850 the cotton looms were moved to a factory in Bakırköy, west of Istanbul, and one hundred jacquard looms were installed in Hereke. Although in the early years the factory produced exclusively for the Ottoman palaces, as production increased the woven products were available in the Grand Bazaar in the second half of the 19th century. In 1878 a fire in the factory caused extensive damage, and it was not reopened until 1882. Carpet production began in Hereke in 1891 and expert carpet weavers were brought from the famous carpet weaving centers of Sivas, Manisa and Ladik. The carpets were all hand woven, and in the early years they were either made for the Ottoman palaces or as gifts for visiting statesmen. The number of looms steadily increased to meet the demand and, when Hereke carpets went on sale in Istanbul, their fame quickly spread to Europe. Soon the Hereke factory was receiving many commercial orders and business flourished. Hereke carpets are known primarily for their fine weave. Silk thread or fine wool yarn and occasionally gold, silver and cotton thread are used in their production. Wool carpets produced for the palace had 60-65 knots per square centimeter, while silk carpets had 80-100 knots. The knots were of two main types: the “hekim” knot and the Turkish or Gördes knot. After each row is woven, a length of yarn is passed through it and this single-warp knot creates the denser knotting which permits finer and more intricate designs to be created. In some of the carpets, a relief effect is obtained by clipping the pile unevenly. The oldest Hereke carpets, now exhibited in Topkapı Palace Museum and other palaces in Istanbul, contain a wide variety of colours and designs. The Typical “palace carpet” features intricate floral designs, including the tulip, daisy, carnation, crocus, rose, lilac, and hyacinth. It often has quarter medallions in the corners. The medallion composition used in rugs made in Usak, in western Turkey, since the 16th century was widely used at the Hereke factory. These medallions are curved on the horizontal axis and taper to points on the vertical axis. Hereke prayer rugs feature patterns of geometric motifs, tendrils and lamps as background designs within the representation of a mihrab (prayer niche). Once referring solely to carpets woven at Hereke, the term “Hereke carpet” now refers to any high quality carpet woven using similar techniques. Hereke carpets remain among the finest and most valuable examples of woven carpets in the world.


How is a Carpet Woven?

-Symmetrical knotting, double or Turkish knotting. Each knot is made on two warps. In this form of knotting, each end of the pile thread is wrapped all the way around the two warps, pulled down and cut.

-Non-symmetrical or single (Persian) knotting. While one end of the thread is wrapped all the wary around the warp, the other end goes just beside the other warp. Then both ends are pulled down and cut.

-The weaving is started from the bottom of the loom. First the kilim part (flat woven part) is woven at the lower edge.

-The weaver then takes a piece of wool which corresponds with the pattern and forms a knot on two warps.

-Then she cuts the surplus wool with a knife.

-After one row of  knotting is completed, she then passes a weft thread in between the front and back warps. The weft threads are used to strengthen the weaves of the carpet.

-Then she will take the "kirkit" (a heavy comb like tool) and vigorously beat down the row of knots and weft, in order to obtain the desired tightness and to make the knots and weft compact.

-Following this step, with a pair of adjustable scissors she cuts the surplus colored threads to obtain a uniform level of pile thickness.

-This process is continued until the carpet is complete. 

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