I have been in the trading business of selling
and buying ‘tulu’ carpets for 17 years but my perception
of them began only six years ago. I worked as a carpet salesman
in Anatolia for most of my life. I have always had the excitement
of a student each time I saw an Anatolian whether they be a
man or a woman or from the Eastern or Western Anatolia. I was
surprised by their intense knowledge. During tours of Karapinar
(middle region of Anatolia) my son Mustafa and I discovered
Tulu carpets. Mustafa was at the tender age of 13 so he noticed
the Tulu before I did.
Tulu is the English pronunciation for the Turkish word, ‘tuylu'
meaning hairy. The technique used for weaving is similar to
that of the Middle and Western Anatolian carpets. The number
of wefts is slightly more than that of the regional carpets
and the yarn for tying is spun loose giving it a more warm,
soft and piled look. Tulu carpets are woven in Karapinar which
is to the east of Konya. This region is a half-desert like plain
and to the north there are barren mountains. There are many
ruins of ancient Anatolian civilizations dating back 7000 years.
Till about 70-80 years ago the Turkoman villagers lived closely
with the Greek villagers. Nature did not allow for much agriculture
besides wheat and stock-breeding. There are about 30 villages
situated around the plain which are all a part of Karapinar.
The villagers and some of the town’s residents move to
the mountains in the north during the summer to avoid the extreme
heat. The villagers live in warm, earth-roofed houses during
the winter and in the summer months they move to live in their
dark tents in the rugged terrain. They weave carpets in order
to make a living and to protect and cover themselves. This region
has been the center for commercially woven carpets due to the
high quality of yarn, cheap labor and skill of women. Until
recently they have been weaving carpets and kilims for themselves
The tulu carpets that we refer to are of this category: non-commercially
woven carpets. In my opinion, tulu carpets reflect the mysticism
and regional archeology of the area. These carpets also exhibit
the Greek influences of the past generations. The people of
Karapinar are simple, quiet, and sensitive who live in near-natural
conditions. The necessary skills in order to survive the desert
conditions had accumulated within them. The characteristics
and intelligence of the people we mentioned above were so exaggerated
by the other villagers in Konya that they became known as ‘devils
of the sand’.
To understand these people of the desert, you
must pay attention to their austere expressions but discover
their soft hearts by looking beyond their eyes. You must not
mind their firm handshake but try to feel the warmth of their
skin and catch them try to cover. Don’t! Pay no attention
to their arrogant looks but notice their speech and the simplicity
of their way of producing, consuming and living which is extraordinary.
This has been a very interesting adventure for me. Tulus are
the mirrors of these people. Tulus are woven without the thoughts
“Can I earn enough?” or “Will my boss like
it?”. They are woven by a woman who is weaving for someone
she loves and admires and while weaving she transmits all her
thoughts and feelings to the tulu.
The tulus of Karapinar are woven to reflect the wisdom and
sensations which the weaver has matured in herself. Messages
inside the carpet are sometimes clear and sometimes blurred.
But the message is always from a human being to yet another.
The thing that is transferred to Tulu carpets is something that
is inside us all, and – I hope everybody will notice –
it is love.
I will now try to tell you a bit about Karapinar’s or
deserts spring time. It is easy to notice the coming of spring
in the Black Sea or Mediterranean regions. It can even be noticed
by the deaf and the blind in these areas. But out in a desert
there is hardly a difference between the winter and spring.
In winter there is a gray and sparse growth. This growth is
dry. The earth is yellow in color. The yellow earth is covered
with snow here and there. There are pale gray plants whose height
won’t exceed ten centimeters along with bluish gray plants
which have just sprung from the earth measuring no more than
one or two centimeters. One must be very sensitive to notice
all these yellow, gray, brown and blue tones.
What nature gives is restricted: grass, and water are all restricted.
Within the framework of these limitations the Karapinar folk
have mastered the art of coexisting with these limitations.
And as others have done they have unified with their environment.
And their simple and restricted expressions expect to be discovered
just like the spring time.
In order to see and understand the tulus ones eyes have to
be careful or rather one has to be all eyes. I won’t say
anymore. I leave the rest to the tulus.
(An unedited contribution, as written by the author)
by Celaleddin VARDARSUYU