Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Anatolian kilims

Anatolian kilims collected from Turkey in May

I have spent the last eight weeks photographing and writing up antique kilims I found during a lovely trip to Anatolia in May. Although it was much more of a kilim hunt than a holiday, we did also manage to have a few days rest by the sea near Bodrum and in Goreme, Cappadocia where Ibrahim who does my kilim repairs taught Kathi the ‘zingir’ technique for retaining the ends of kilims with a special crotchet knot over each warp thread. 

Here is a selection of photos of the weavings I found. To see the rest, feel free to have a look at

An exceptional antique  Konya region Hotamis dowry kilim with fascinating symbols and design

A leather lined yoruk nomad saddle bag from Dosemealti

A rare Yunçu tribe kilim from west Anatolia

A 18th/19th century Anatolian Konya kilim with stunning natural dyes

A rare 18th/19th century Karakeçli tribe kilim from west Anatolia

A stunning 19th century Aksaray area kilim from Taspinar in central Anatolia

A yoruk nomad saf prayer kilim from Afyon in west Anatolia

A rare antique heybe saddle bag from Sinan in east Anatolia with great natural dyes. It comes from a village now covered by a dam!

As anyone who has taken an interest in Anatolian weavings will know, these weavings are becoming increasingly hard to find, with most good pieces already in the hands of collectors. The fact that the nomadic culture in which they were produced is almost entirely consigned to history in Anatolia, makes them something to be especially cherished. New kilims and rugs are being produced in Turkey, but pieces like those in the photos abive, woven from hand-spun wool from sheep, goats (and camels) often reared by the yoruk nomad families themselves, using dyes produced from plants and minerals in a tradition going back to ancient times, are something entirely different.

The weavings I am particularly drawn to are those that express more than beautiful pattern-making but retain a vibrant ‘living’ quality; where the motifs, sometimes including archetypal magical symbols, are not only aesthetically pleasing but also reflect the true spirit of an ancient culture inherited through countless generations of weavers. The magical symbols and motifs woven into such kilims and weavings are also the real living expression of the desire, will and prayer of the individual and the family for the same protection, security, love and prosperity that we also strive for. These creations are the result of truly refined skills in dying, weaving and artistic expression, both inherited and learned, rarely encountered outside Anatolia. They have been treasured by the families that made them and passed on through inheritance and as dowry gifts.

For those who would like to read more, Hali Magazine are offering a free online edition this month. Here is a link to the magazine:

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