Carpet Weaving: What It Is, Turkish Traditions, How to Weave, And Recommended Products

Carpet weaving is indispensable for home décor and is mostly used as a floor cover, but is also hung as wallboard in some houses. So how do they weave the carpet?

It is a pile-faced fabric that is woven with cotton, hair, silk, and wool yarns side by side to the neck of the warp skeleton by tying the wool, silk, and floss yarns with different techniques, by looping and pressing them with a weft thread kirkit. The number of wefts in carpet manufacture is two or three. Usually, two wefts are used. After several rows of weaving, the loops are cut at the desired height with carpet scissors. In recent years, there are also carpets whose pile has been embossed according to the pattern. Widely used as cover, pillow, etc.

Woven carpets are patterned with plants, animals, geometric motifs, mixed shapes, and symbols. Tree, flower, double-headed eagle, bird, triangle, and quadrilateral are common patterns. Symbols and patterns used in carpets are also a means of communication with their meanings. Around the carpet, there are borders with mixed motifs, which are called water, which have the characteristics of a frame, and patterns such as lakes, medallions, and chests in the middle.

Going beyond being a household item, the carpet took its place in the marriage ritual with its value in dowry in Turkish culture and in the death ceremony because it was covered over the coffin. Woven carpet is also a part of cultural identity. The person who weaves the carpet gives an identity to the carpet she weaves by weaving her tribe, her family, or a pattern of her own.

Carpets are named according to where they are used. For example, foot rugs, cedar rugs, tapestries, prayer rugs, runners, stair rugs, etc. According to its size, it gets names like head, bed frame, and base. Apart from these, carpet pillows, mattresses and saddlebags are also produced.

How Do They Weave the Carpet?

Carpet is a pile surface texture that covers the floor texture with looping threads on the surface of normal fabric texture. Loop threads are obtained by hand forming a connection around the warps. These yarns that will form the pile surface are then compressed into the tissue with the help of a tool called “kirkit” and the carpet surface is created.

Handmade rugs are woven on looms. The loom is a large hoop of carpet weaving, the lower part of which is placed on the ground, the upper part can be moved and has various parts. It is made of thick poles that interlock each other. Wool threads from top to bottom on the carpet counter are tightly stretched and lined up like comb teeth. The carpet is woven on these threads. These are called “warps”.

Some of the warp threads are stretched to form 2 surfaces at the front and some at the back. A wand called “varagele” was placed transversely. This wand serves to leave a space between the back and front row threads in its location by lowering it between the threads. Thus, knotting is done easily in carpet weaving.

The yarn that is transversely passed through the warp threads in the carpet loom, leaving one of the strands at the front and the other at the back, is called a “weft”. There is also a “power order” to allow this thread to pass. When each knot row is complete and the cross weft thread is to be inserted, double or single thread rows are pushed back by pressing on the power pattern. When the knot sequence is completed, a comb called “kirkit” is used to pull them down and tighten them.

Kirkit, which is struck on the weft wires by lowering down from above, pushes down the knot row between the two wefts and consequently compresses it. In this way, the carpet is woven.

Designing a carpet model is a difficult, demanding, long-lasting job that requires years of experience and knowledge. Quality information is very important in the design of a model in accordance with the carpet planned to be woven and the preparation of the model cardboard. It is only possible with an experience of long years to determine the desired appearance of the model to be woven and what quality, in which knot density, and to estimate the aesthetics in the carpet before touching the carpet.

Knot Types Used in Carpet Weaving

  1. Turkish Knot (Gördes Knot – Double Knot – Closed Loop): It has taken this name because it was used in the Gördes district of Manisa in Anatolia. They are used in weaving carpets in Turkey and in the world literature “Turkish knot” as is history. There are two types of this node. It is the knot that is used in Central Anatolia, in the form of a knot, which is tied by twisting the yarn in the front and back of the yarn and warp pair. In the knot used in Western Anatolia, the same process is applied in reverse. This change does not affect the quality of the carpet. It provided convenience in the pile cutting of carpets that are woven only in Western Anatolia.
  2. Iran Node (Sine Loot – Single Node – Open Loop): It is known as the Sine Node named after a region in West Iran. In this knot, the thread is attached only to its wire in front of the warp pair and is passed through the back of the other warp and compressed by pulling it down. Two weft threads are also used in Iranian knotted carpets.
  3. Single Warp Knot: It is formed by pulling the two ends of the knitting thread on both sides of the warp thread after making a full turn around a warp thread. Each warp that follows each other is knotted one by one. It is used very little compared to other knot methods. It is mostly seen on Spanish carpets.
  4. Double Knots: It is obtained by passing the loop thread over three or four warp threads. It is also called a physician node. It is a knot shape with low strength made for coarse weaving.

Rules to Be Considered When Making Carpet Weaving

  • Loops (knots) are made with the same frequency.
  • Compression with Kirkit must be done equally.
  • If Kirkit is not made firm and the knots do not fit into the warp, the back of the carpet will not come off properly.
  • When weaving the carpet, the motifs are made in accordance with the sample. For example, 5 loops of red and 3 loops of yellow are knotted. Later, the row is completed by weaving ground color into the intermediate spaces.
  • According to the pattern, a knot is cast on each square.
  • The thread must be passed without narrowing the warp threads from the sides and tightening them.
  • With Kirkitle, it is necessary to make striking strikes on the ropes of the rim from right to left, from left to right at the same speed.
  • After each row of knots, two rows of thread are passed.
  • The woven part of the carpet should be wrapped in the bottom spool before it is too high. If the weaved part is high, the compression of the kirkit cannot be done completely and the carpet makes a transverse pull.
  • Carpet weaving place should not be damp. If it touches the damp place, the loops and scarves will get wet from the damp. With the impact of Kirkit, the wet quality will cause the carpet to deteriorate as it will over-sit.

Weaving Looms

Weaving looms can be classified according to their usage types and shapes as follows:

  • Table counter
  • Horizontal loom (put on – nomadic or floor loom; cloth foot is used for making fabrics)
  • Vertical loom (three types of carpet loom, winding loom, and flat loom are seen)
  • Shuttle weaving looms
  • A machine without flagelp (usually two pedals, weaving is done by hand throwing the shuttle)
  • Whip looms (weaving is done by pulling the whip of the shuttle)
  • Pit benches (where the weaver sits, the part where the pedals are located is in the hole)
  • High workbenches
  • Dobby looms (used in fabrics requiring strength from eight strengths to twenty-four strengths)
  • Jacquard looms (Used in fabrics requiring more than twenty-thirty strength)

Machine Type Woven Rugs

Hand-woven carpets are woven on looms. Using the unlimited advantages of modern technology today, the carpet industry constantly renews itself. They produce new trends and new types of carpets every year. In order to produce more at once, companies prefer machine type woven rugs.
Machine-made carpets are hand-woven textures where a similar structure to carpets is made by means of carpet weaving machines. Loops in machine-made rugs are not knot-shaped but are generally U or V-shaped pieces of yarn that are squeezed between the weft threads. Filling yarns such as jute, linen, and cotton are also used in machine-made carpets to reinforce the basic fabric and keep the carpet in place properly.

History of Carpet Weaving

The carpets produced for centuries carry the signatures of their creators while telling the history, traditions, and legends.

It is known that the first people who used the carpet were the Central Asian nomadic communities. The first carpets woven from goat hair were used to protect the nomadic tents from the cold. These carpets laid on the top and floor of the tent are the first examples of thermal insulation.

Weaving which developed over time enabled the production of carpets and rugs used for different purposes. The fabrics produced afterward were produced to separate the tents into rooms, to worship, to store food materials, and as they were mastered to fulfill their functions, they also gained an aesthetic dimension.

The history of weaving goes back to prehistoric times. The agricultural structure and industries of the countries have been a major factor in the development of today’s weaving. It is understood from the fabrics used in wrapping mummies that linen fabric weaving was developed in ancient Egypt. It is seen in documents that weaving in Egypt is done by women at home. In Mesopotamian civilization, wool was used in weaving. Although there are examples of weaving in the excavations, the names of the fabrics and their prices are indicated in the tablets with cuneiform writings.

The Iranians have made weaving art and have created wonders especially in silk and velvet weaving, with palaces, private workshops, weavers, and designers. In India, where cotton is accepted as the homeland, remnants of cotton fabric samples were found. The homeland of silk and silk weaving in China. Also, industry-oriented looms were invented in China.

It came to the west in the 6th century. Weaving was developed when the Turks came to Anatolia. The origin of the carpet is based on Anatolia. It comes from the Anatolian Seljuk State. The first known carpets in the world were woven by Turks in Central Asia. It is known that these carpets are the oldest example ever survived in 6-5 centuries BC and are still stored in the Leningrad Museum. Carpet is the result of people asking for a warm floor.

The oldest carpet in the world is “flea” carpet. The carpet, 1.9 m wide and 2 m long, was woven with a Turkish knot using fine wool yarn. There are 3600 nodes in the square of the decimeter. The carpet is surrounded by five narrow and three wide borders. The carpet is divided into six rows, twenty-four squares, and each section is woven with floral motifs. These are filled with four-leafed floral motifs. There are cavalry figures on the widest and most outermost border of the carpet. Red, yellow and blue yarns are mostly used in the carpet colored with root dye.

After the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, weaving has made great progress to meet the needs of the army and the palace. Strict checks have been made to maintain the quality of the fabrics. Bursa and Denizli became the most developed region of weaving and the fabrics woven in this period spread to France and Italy. The political crises, capitulations, and mechanization of production in Europe in the 18th century caused the weakening of weaving in the Ottoman Empire and the removal of weaving products. In order to meet the needs of the army during the Tanzimat period, weaving has gained importance again, starting the factory period.

In Turkey, carpet weaving is a business that women have played an important role. There is a gender-basis reason behind it. Thanks to women’s creativity and passion, since the beginning women are more dominant in this industry. And, women are more caring as well. So, in order to make the house more comfortable and warm, women think about to weave carpet.

Rugs woven in their historical development were used as tents and ornaments in tents, houses, mansions, and mansions. It is known that in early ages, people knit shells and plant fibers. With the acquisition of the yarn, the weaving techniques that we call “plain hand weavings” have emerged. Rugs, sumac, and bell are examples of this type of weaving. Weaving in simple looms has become an industry with the advancement of technology today.

Today, carpets woven in 36 different regions are mostly from the hands of Anatolian women. Although they do not go far from traditional motifs, women ensure the continuity of this culture in the carpets they add their own aesthetic understanding. On the other hand, carpet designers grown in the country represent Turkish carpet making worldwide with a more modern approach.

Motifs and Their Meanings in Turkish Carpet Art

Although they vary from region to region, there are some traditional motifs in Turkish carpets that have not lost their meaning for centuries and are still used today. These motifs have four main themes. Birth, life, death, and immortality.

The fiction of the carpet in itself is determined according to these four themes and the motifs are processed accordingly. Carpet artist starts weaving with motifs related to birth and continues with life and death.

If we talk about the motifs related to birth, which is the first theme, for example, we can show the “ram horn” motif that represents masculinity, courage, and power. Fruit motifs such as watermelon, grape, and pomegranate also symbolize fertility. The “earrings” motif has been adopted as a wedding gift for many years in Anatolia, and the earrings motif on a carpet is a way of expressing the marriage desire of the weaver.

“Flowing water” motif comes first among the motifs that represent life. Some of the motifs processed for the protection of life are “amulet”, “evil eye bead”, “burdock”, “dragon”, and “wolf mouth”.

Although the bird motif has many meanings at once, it is widely used to symbolize death. In order to describe the last theme, immortality, “tree of life” and “life bird” motifs that are generally represented while flying over this tree are used.

Not only figurative patterns but also colors used in carpet art are meaningful. Red symbolizes friendship and love, yellow symbolizes evil, blue symbolizes hope and green symbolizes breakup.

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Artistic Weavers Odelia Updated Traditional Rug

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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like history and reading about carpets. I like to play soccer too :)

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