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Fred's Lecture on Carpet



History of Rug Knotting and Kilim Weaving

Although no one knows precisely when and where the technique of weaving first started, there is no doubt that the weaving art, in general, started in Central Asia. A population explosion caused the inhabitants of that area to migrate to the western parts of Asia in order to find more prosperous land. These migrating tribes were called Yoruks or nomadic tribes. During their migrations, these nomads, who were exposed to severe weather conditions, learned to use goat hair in the making of their tents. Goat hair is longer and much stiffer than sheep's wool. The flat weave technique was used in the making of nomadic tents.

Just as with a little girl's braided pony-tail where strands of the shorter and stiffer hair stick out, the goat hair sticks out of the woven fabric, gets wet, drops and partially cover the holes in the flat weave, thus making the tent almost waterproof. Later on, these nomadic people felt the need to isolate themselves from the humidity present in the earthen floors of their tents. They then applied the very same techniques of flat weave to the making of floor coverings and called them "Kilims.” Since this was the area of paganism, most flat weave designs reflected stylized depictions of the worshipped symbols.

Over a period of time, the art of weaving improved and many items useful in every day life were woven: for example saddlebags for horses and camels that could be used in the transportation of many types of items. The Yoruks also wove kilims with goat hair and used them as warm blankets since the fibers were so long just as in today's Siirt blankets. It's thought that these early blankets were woven in imitation of actual animal pelts. Kilims were also woven as room dividers in the tents, as well as for cradles, with the corners tied to the overhead tent poles so that the cradle could be swung back and forth to rock the babies to sleep. These many types of woven products improved over time with additional uses developed on an evolutionary basis. At first the nomads, who strictly lived in tents, stacked dried leaves and lay them in the corners of their tents and used the soft stacks as beds. Under the weight of the sleepers, the beds rapidly turned into dust and provided little comfort, thus causing frequent replacement. Then in a further inspiration of using animal pelts as a model, the nomads started to add pile to the basic flat weaves. These first pile rugs were very supple; the nomads would simply fold and throw them on a horse's back to be used as a sleeping bag during their long voyages.

As we mentioned before, no one knows exactly when and where the first knotted-pile carpets were knotted; however the oldest "surviving" pile carpet was discovered in the grave of a Scythian prince in the Pazyryk valley of the Altai Mountains; in Siberia by Russian archeologist (Rudenko) in 1947. It's presently displayed in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. The carpet was knotted 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 B.C. It was loaded and subsequently flooded and froze to await discovery by Rudenko. The Pazyryk, or Altai Carpet, is rather sophisticated, thereby showing that it's the product of a long history and tradition of weaving.

Techniques of Rug and Flat weave Construction
In flat weaving there are a number of different types of loom and weaving techniques but for purposes herein, the various types can be categorized into two general groups. The first grouping contains the basic flat weave technique, or "kilim weaving.” In a kilim, the pattern is formed by passing a yarn of a particular color over and under the vertical yarns (known as warps) for the duration of the particular color or design motif, then the same horizontal yarns (known as wefts) are turned on the same path (next row) along the edge of the same colored motif. This process is continued until the individual motif is completed. Then the next motif is started where the initial one finishes, but the two yarn colors are not normally joined together in anyway, thus causing a slit to appear between the two respective yarns. Each block of color is then woven successively until the whole kilim is completed. When you hold a kilim woven in this way up to the light, you can easily see the slits where two patterns meet but do not join (thus the slit weave technique). The second grouping contains flat weaves, which employ the technique of wrapping or brocading.

A motif is created by adding a third yarn to the warp and weft yarns, which are wrapped around the warp yarns in several configurations, depend upon whether the intent is to weave: Cicim, Zili, or Sumak (all kilim types). In the Cicim, the motifs are usually scattered or in series, with no organic relationship between any two motifs, and the basic ground weave (warp and weft) shows through so that the Cicim motifs appear to be embroidered. In the Zili, the entire surface of the ground weave is normally covered with the design yarns and vertical lines, somewhat like cords, protrude to give Zili its distinctive appearance. In the Sumak, the entire surface is also normally covered with the design yarns. All three of these techniques may be employed together in one flat weave if desired. Each of the 4 basic types of flat-weave also has a number of sub-groups with variations in technique (23 in all).

There are two principal types of knots that are used in rug weaving (knotting). 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; this type makes for a far tighter carpet. These two-knot types DO NOT distinguish quality; Turkish knot vs. Persian knot are NOT comparable; they are very different techniques.

The Turkish knot is a stand of yarn encircling two warp threads, with the loose ends running tightly between the two warps creating pile. The Persian knot is a strand of yarn that encircles one-warp thread 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.

Rugs and the various flat waves are made from five basic materials; sheep wool, goat hair, cotton, floss silk, and silk.

Materials Used in Rug and Flat Weave Weaving
Sheep Wool: The quality of wool varies according to the climate, the breed of sheep, and the time of year of the shearing. Wool from sheep that live in warm and arid regions is normally dry and brittle, and since it breaks so easily, it ends up being short and feels lifeless. Good quality wool comes from healthy and well-fed sheep found in cold regions or at high elevations with good grazing lands and lots of water. In the colder regions, sheep grow a full fleece to keep warm and their bodies store fat, which then translates to a high lanolin content within the fiber, which reaches lengths of 10 cm. and more. The wool so obtained feels silky smooth and yet springy. Wool from the higher elevations and from the spring shearing is considered to be the highest quality. Wool is hand-spun by using primitive utensils called kirmen (drop spindle) and by spinning wheels. Women usually spin the wool during idle moments. In hand-spun wool, the original length of the fiber stays the same through the spinning process - a fiber that measured 7 cm. before spinning will still measure the same after spinning. Wool can also be industrially spun, but the hard twisting of the fibers by the spinning machines tends to break some of the fibers. Although the broken bits and shorter fibers can be made to adhere together through the use of oils during the spinning process, the fiber will have lost some of its strength, which, in turn, will shorten the life span of the rugs to be woven. (Keep in mind this shorter life means simply a generation, the carpet will still out live YOU!)

Cotton: In rug and kilim weaving, cotton is used mostly for the warp and weft threads, creating the base of the carpet/kilim. Compared to wool, cotton is generally considered to be a more resilient fiber and it's less elastic. So, tighter knots can be tied on cotton warps as opposed to wool. If very tight knots are tied to a wool warp, the fiber will break much more frequently than if the warps were of cotton. Consequently, woolen pile rugs with high knotting density counts will normally have cotton warps, for example, in Hereke, Ladik, and Kayseri Bunyan carpets.

Goat Hair: Goat hair occasionally found in Oriental rugs in the side bindings (selvedge), but is more frequently found in saddlebags, cushions, various types of stacks, etc.

Floss Silk: Floss silk, or art silk as it is some times called, is actually mercerized cotton and is used in certain rugs that are woven in Kayseri. Although not identical to silk, a somewhat similar look is obtained by mixing cypress tree fibers with cotton that has been washed in citric acid. Floss silk rugs are woven with natural cotton warp and weft threads.

Pure Silk: The silk used in Turkish carpet comes from silk cocoons in Bursa. It has a very high tensile strength and can be twisted very finely, plus it is quite resilient. The finest silk comes from the first part of the amazingly long single thread with witch a silk worm spins its cocoons. When unrolled, the thread from one silk cocoon can stretch up to 25,000 meters. The best and the finest hand-woven rugs in the world are Turkish Hereke silk rugs. A normal quality silk Hereke should have 1,000,000 knots per square meter. Today with tremendous care, attention and density, some exceptional Hereke silk rugs are woven with 3,240,000 knots per square meter; that is 18 knots vertically on 1 cm. And 18 knots horizontally on 1 cm. This indicates how finely the silk can be twisted and woven, as well as how strong and resilient this pile can be.

Dyes Used For Rug Yarns Their Characteristics and History
The use of vegetables, bark, roots and other natural items to make dyes has been a well-known art for many thousands of years. This ancient practice continued unchanged and untouched until the mid 19th century when synthetic dyes were invented. The findings at a Chinese spring dating from about 3000 B.C. indicate that the science of dyeing was initially developed in the Far East. On the other hand, in Europe, the first dyers were most probably people who lived around Zurich Lake in about 2000 B.C. The dyeing industry was established in the 15th century B.C. We also know that the art of dyeing belongs to old times in India. Marco Polo in the chronicles of his travels tells us how Indigo was cultured before the Portuguese exported it to Europe. Anatolian dyeing processes are a synthesis of dyeing, the knowledge that was handed down from centuries B.C., and the rich traditions of Anatolia itself.

Why are natural dyes so important? Is it because some shades of color cannot be found in various synthetic dyes, or is it because the natural dyes are cheaper or easier to obtain?

Actually, it's neither of these reasons. The synthetic dye catalogues are quite thick and rich in the kinds of dyes and shades of color that are available. But the natural dyes come from Mother Nature's own harmony, and they reflect the preferences of the various peoples through the years and centuries. Plus, the natural dyes (vegetable dyes) will mellow with time, and if left under the sun, they'll shine and radiate the most pleasing shades of color.

In many areas it's common practice to expose naturally dyed rugs to the sun so that the colors fade gradually and gracefully to their ultimate harmony and beauty. But the synthetic dyes don't have this peculiarity. If the dye used is of the chromatic type, the colors are fast to light, as well as moisture, which, in itself, can be considered as an advantage. But if the synthetic dye used is of a lower quality, with time the colors will fade and the various shades will probably be dull and lifeless. We can see with our naked eyes all the differences in dyes, understand the advantages, and disadvantages of each type, and easily discern which ones are more harmonious and eye pleasing.

Fine Turkish Carpets recognized for their value and beauty are made with natural dyes obtained from plants, berries and trees. Chemical dyes are also used but to the trained eye they do not have the beauty or luster of natural dyes. The main natural dyes are listed below.


Dyer's Wood (Civit Otu) Blue: From this plant dark or light blue tones are produced by the length of time, which the plant is boiled. It is found along the edges of fields growing wild in Central and Western Anatolia. Dyer's Wood (also known as Dyer's Woad and Weede) and some other plants are used to yield indigo, which is the oldest and most important blue dye.

Madder Red (Kok Boya): The roots of this plant are known as madder. It grows wild in Central and Western Anatolia. A two-year-old plant will be about one and a half meters high. "Rose madder" was a standard color on the plates of the old masters of the Renaissance and today, many expensive Italian and English neckties are known as madder ties because of the rich deep toned red color.

Ox-Eye Chamomile (daisy) (Sari Papaya), Bright Yellow: During the spring, one finds this plant all over Anatolia. It's large, golden yellow flowers a top long stems last throughout the summer. It grows along roadsides and in dry meadows. The flowers, fresh or dried, used along with a fixing agent, produce a bright yellow.

Walnut Tree (Ceviz), Brown: The beautiful walnut tree can be found in the forested country of Eastern Turkey. It is a profusely branched tree, which has a height of up to 25 meters and bears peanut leaves. The fruit is covered with a thick green rind, which along with the leaves, is often used by villagers for a green or blackish-brown dye. The walnut tree is native in Turkey. Turkey produces 15-20 percent of the world's walnut crop. The effective coloring agent is the brown dye, jug lone, which adheres directly to wool fibers without a fixing agent. In ancient times the walnut pods were used in medicine and for the dyeing of hair.

Pomegranate Tree (knar), Yellow to brownish yellow and brown to black: This tree grows in the mild regions of Western, Southwestern, and Northeastern Anatolia. It's a tall tree with a height of up to 40 meters, with branches that are spiny with very shiny, lance-shaped, dark green leaves. It's easily distinguished by its beautiful pinkish-violet flowers. During autumn, the tree bears a fruit with many seeds, which is the yellow-red skinned pomegranate. The fresh or dried skin of the fruit is used for dyeing. If a fixing agent is used, along with the skin, a yellow brownish shade will result. If an iron-fixing agent is used, a brownish-black shade will result. In Oriental carpets and kilims, the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and abundance because of its many seeds.

Buckthorn (Cehri), Deep Yellow: This plant grows only in Turkey on slopes with an altitude up to 3000 meters (9843 feet). Before the 20th century, it was mainly cultivated in Central Anatolia (Konya, Kirsehir, Sivas, Ankara and Kayseri). Today only wild shrubs grow along roadsides, in fields and vineyards at Urgup, Corum and Kahramanmaras, which are areas of farmer cultivation. The unripe fruits, fresh or dried are used to create the dyes. When an alum-fixing agent is used, a deep yellow will result. This deep yellow from the dried fruits is mainly used for dyeing silk. This color dye is often used to obtain secondary and tertiary colors.

Spurge (Sulligent), Yellow: This plant grows throughout Turkey. The entire plant contains a milky juice in its narrow, undivided leaves and clusters of blossoms. Some varieties bloom during the late summer and early autumn. All parts of the plant, except the roots are used for creating this yellow dye. This dye is frequently detected in cottage industry carpets of Anatolia mainly in the Daskiri, Maden and Ortakoy carpets.

Baste Hemp (Gence), Brilliant Yellow: This dye is not used as often as other yellow dyes. This plant grows on the mountains of Central and Eastern Anatolia. The brilliant yellow color is common in older flat weaves. The strong color is often mistaken for a chemical dye and for this reason it's not popular in Western Anatolia Workshops where weavers cater to foreign markets. In Eastern Anatolia, Lake Van area, the kilims are produced for local consumers who prefer bright colors and are less concerned about the distinctions between chemical and natural dyes.

Wild Chamomile Daisy (Beyaz Papaya), Yellow: During March, in Western and Southern Anatolia, this chamomile plant will cover entire fields with fresh blossoms. With alum fixing agent, a clear yellow dye will be obtained.

Tree-Leaved Sage (Ada cayi), Yellow: This herb can be found in most Mediterranean regions. It blooms on the dry hillsides from March until August. It's distinctive with its tall flowering spikes of mauve or pinkish two-lipped flowers. The leaves and stems, either fresh or dried, are suitable for dyeing. Plants are just one of many sources from which to obtain natural dyes. To obtain a natural dye the plant is boiled to extract the color. Next, to ensure the absorption of the color in to the wool a second plant or natural salt is mixed with the dye. This second plant or salt is known as the mordant or fixing agent.

Saffron Yellow: Another major source of dye in older carpets.

A mordant or fixing agent prevents bleeding or running of colors thus it fixes the color. If a chemical salt is used as mordant the dye is still called natural. When alum is used as mordant alone with madder a pale red is obtained because alum is a natural light salt. But if iron is used as a mordant a deep red or burgundy is produced. The choice of mordant determines the color of dye. Today, some people believe that there are no natural dyes because of certain chemicals, which are used as mordants. Mordants are formed from natural chemicals of the earth not synthetically produced, so when they are added to natural dyes they act as a fixing agent and produced the color desired by the weaver.

Cleaning and Daily Care of Rugs and Kilims
Cleanliness is the first and major step towards the preservation of a hand-made carpet and it's the best to prevent damage. There are no hard or fast rules to stipulate when and how often to clean a carpet since every hand-made carpet is different and every household exposes a carpet to different amounts of wear and dirt. There are many professional books on the care and cleaning of carpets that one may consult if one is interested in doing a professional cleaning. However, the following advice and information are basic general instructions that the average homeowner may exercise in the care and cleaning of a carpet or kilim. The best recommendation is regular brushing with an old-fashioned straw broom with natural bristles or the use of an electric carpet sweeper. Always sweep the face of a carpet with the pile NEVER against it. Remember that it is just as important to brush the underlay of the carpet and floor beneath. One caution, the regular use of a vacuum cleaner beater bar will eventually start to loosen the knots and pull the fibers out of the pile; also NEVER use the revolving brush attachment on a carpet for it will actually pull the fibers apart. The upholstery attachment is the very best and may be used once a month.

Hand Cleaning at Home
Prepare a mixture of the following proportions; half a cup of carpet shampoo to four and a half cups of warm water and add one tablespoon of white vinegar to prevent the color from running. Lay the carpet with the pile up on a hard flat surface. Dip a brush in the liquid and apply it in gentle even vertical strokes with the pile never against. Vigorous brushing or scrubbing will not clean thoroughly and is likely to damage the carpet in its wet vulnerable state. The amount of shampoo applied and the pressure of the brush should be as constant as possible over the entire carpet surface. Once the carpet is brushed vertically (lengthwise) then brush horizontally or from side to side across the pile, with the same gentle strokes. The pile should be thoroughly cleaned by now. Finally, brush gently in the direction of the pile as the carpet dries, so that the pile is lying in the right direction. The carpet pile should never be forced against its will.

Drying
Preferably use a room where there is a warm air current heating system. Do not drape the carpet, it must be allowed to dry flat, and don't walk, or place anything on it until it is completely dry. A concrete patio is great. The warp, weft and pile of a completely dried carpet should feel soft and pliable. Remember, pile is nothing more than ‘hair' sheep or goat or silkworm. Remove the dried dirt and shampoo powder by gently brushing with a soft dry brush, again in the direction of the pile.

Things to Avoid
Washing machines and spin dryers should NEVER be used for any delicate hand-made item. With carpets the vibration, water temperature and harsh detergents will cause irreparable damage; possible color-run from the hot water and the detergents and a cement-like wool once dry. It may even reduce the carpet to shreds. Again, dry cleaners sometimes advertise themselves as carpet cleaners; be very careful, check them out before you give them a thousand dollar prize. Their services may be useful for machine-made carpets, but a treasured hand-made masterpiece should never be subjected to the strong chemicals that these firms use. The damage may become apparent only after several months and the damage is irreparable.

Moth Damage
Wool carpets and kilims are subject to moth damage. The dark areas of the carpet should be inspected for signs of moth damage, which will result in a weakened foundation or in the knots eventually pulling out where the nap has been eaten away. New carpet and kilims are treated with insecticides before exportations and ounces in a dealer's shop they are frequently moved about to avoid this problem.

Carpet Sizes
In the Manufacture of carpets some words express certain sizes. These were first used in Kayseri and then spread all over Anatolia. Although these expressions are also used in other regions, the dimensions given here may differ from 10 to 20 cm.

Yastık 60 x 90 cm
Ceyrek 90 x 135 cm.
Kisa Yolluk 70 x 200 cm.
Seccade 120 x 180 cm
Saf 110 x 230 cm.
Karyola 150 x 230 cm.
Kelle 300 x 200 cm.
Taban 6 m2 and over

The information in this document is taken from numerous web sites on the Internet. This is strictly a handout, not intended to be a professional education tool of any kind. The material covered here is completely accurate but very superficial; it takes far more than a simple reading of a few paragraphs of information to make one a carpet expert or buyer.

The simple key to buying carpets or kilims is this: Love the carpet/kilim & love the price! Nothing else is all that important for the casual buyer; anything you will purchase here will outlast you and probably your children baring a catastrophic event. Happy hunting!

*: this material comes from a multitude of written sources – it can be found on the internet as well. I have over fifty carpet books and this is simply a broad overview/synopsis.




Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
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From Members' Pen
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Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

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