For a thumbnail gallery of your favorite items please click here.
What is a kilim
Before we begin to address the subject of kilim nomenclature there is one point
to be clarified, mainly for those first entering the realm of the kilim. Although
at times you may find kilim rugs included in the general genre of "oriental
rugs", in more accepted practice kilim rugs are in a class of their own, and
it is then generally understood that the term "oriental rug" refers to
pile rugs, a category which includes carpets.
The difference between a kilim area rug and a carpet or a pile rug is that whereas
the design visible on the kilim is made by interweaving the variously colored wefts
and warps, thus creating what is known as a flatweave, in a pile rug individual
short strands of different color, usually of wool, are knotted onto the warps and
held together by pressing the wefts tightly against each other. In this case the
whole design is made by these separately knotted strands which form the pile, and
the patterns become clearly visible after any excessive lengths of the knotted materials
are shorn off to create a level surface.
Having thus differentiated between a kilim rug (pileless) and a carpet (with pile)
you might think that's all there's to it. Well, not quite.
All of you - all of us - interested in the subject have wandered the cyber byways
and noticed that the seemingly simple matter of finding the proper definition of
a kilim rug can lead to confusion. Let's take a look at 'kilim' entries in two online
sources generally taken for granted as reliable, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica.
The Merriam-Webster entry reads: "Main Entry: ki·lim
Etymology: Turkish, from Persian kilIm
Meaning: A pileless handwoven reversible rug or covering made in Turkey, the Caucasus,
Iran, and western Turkestan"
Well, are all kilim rugs reversible? Hardly.
What about those made in the Balkans or North Africa?
Is the etymology correct, does it come from Persian, or is the Persian word "palaz"?
Kilim entry in Encyclopedia Britannica (online) reads: "pileless floor covering handwoven by tapestry techniques in Anatolia, the Balkans,
or parts of Iran. In the rest of Iran, the Caucasus, and Turkistan, the name for
similar pieces is palaz. In most kilims, a slit occurs wherever two colours meet
along a vertical line in the pattern, but in a few Karabagh or South Caucasian pieces,
interlocking methods are employed in order to minimize these slits.
The Turks have produced the largest kilims, usually in two narrow pieces joined,
as well as small ones and a multitude of prayer kilims. As a prayer rug, which is
carried about with the worshiper, the light and extremely flexible kilim offers
obvious advantages. In Turkish kilims, cotton is often used for the white areas,
and small details may be brocaded. The kilims of the southern Balkans began as close
copies of Anatolian types but have gradually developed into individual styles, such
as the black, red, and white kilims of Pirot. In Romania, also, there are varied
local fashions, progressively less Oriental in colour and pattern as the distance
from Turkey increases. The name kilim is also given to a variety of brocaded, embroidered,
warp-faced, and other flat-woven rugs and bags."
Here again we question: Are kilim rugs just floor coverings? No, some are hangings,
some are bench or divan covering, etc., etc. Once more a trusted source of information
turns out to be at least a bit misleading.
There are other definitions to be found, some much less accurate, others quaint
or curious, but their very profusion shows that more and more people are interested
in our favorite subject, the kilim. Not many years ago the word 'kilim' wasn't even
listed in an English dictionary or encyclopedia! What's more, even today your computer
spell-check tool probably doesn't recognize kilim as a legitimate word. Don't worry,
Having researched the matter in some detail in numerous sources we have arrived
at the following definition:
Kilim, a word of Turkish origin, denotes a pileless textile of many uses produced
by one of several flatweaving techniques that have a common or closely related heritage
and are practiced in the geographical area that includes parts of Turkey (Anatolia
and Thrace), North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Central Asia and China.
We believe this definition to be correct though incomplete, because, as all kilim
lovers know, no words can convey the romance of the kilim. We try to fill this void
by providing in these pages as much detail as possible about the traditions, culture
and heritage of kilim-making to make the romance live - and we hope you enjoy it.
The origins of the kilim area rugs are buried so deeply in the past of the human race that we will probably never really know the true story of its genesis. Undoubtedly the greatest obstacle faced...
One day a Yuruk tribal chief saw a kilim rug cast on the ground by a tent. Looking at it brought anguish to his heart, so he called on his men to find the father of the girl who had woven that kilim rug.
Motifs are derived from symbols that were used in ages gone by to inform, communicate and to convey ideas. Over time, some of these signs merged with myths, acquired hidden significance and moved into the world of esoteric symbolism.
When we care for something it means that we like or even love it, but then we also tend to care for it by treating it well and protecting it from harm. So to help you take good care of the kilim rug you care for…