Turkey

In both its historical and contemporary aspects, Turkey is of prime importance as a source of kilims and related flatweaves. The country consists of two geographical regions, Anatolia and Thrace, with Anatolia lying in Asia and being by far the larger of the two, while Thrace lies in the southeast of the Balkan region of Europe, bordered by Greece and Bulgaria.

Historically, whichever of the two principal hypotheses regarding the origins of the kilim one espouses, both trails lead to Anatolia where they fuse inseparably. (For a discussion of kilim origins click on the ‘Origins’ button in the ‘About Kilims’ section.).There is no doubt at all that the location of Turkey at the continental crossroads, where Europe meets Asia and the Mediterranean world, contributes greatly to the immense wealth of the country’s heritage, making it effectively the repository of the processes and achievements of cultures without number.

The civilizations that evolved in Anatolia over a period of at least some 10,000 years, from the early Neolithic Age to the present, interacted through neighborly relations, trade and war with those of adjacent lands and received infusions from alien cultures from further afield brought by tribal migrations as well as invasions. Few of these peoples, tribes, clans, nations or states are now remembered, except by scholars and history buffs, but the fact remains that in some way, large or small, each has left its imprint on the kilims, rugs and textiles of Anatolia and Thrace. Very little is known - not even the name, if they used one - of the earliest indigenous Anatolians, but we do know that by the early 7th millennium B.C. there already existed at least one Neolithic small town situated near today’s city of Konya, proof of an advanced stage of social development. In following centuries Sumerians, Hittites, Trojans, Lydians, Carians, Lycians, Phrygians, Galatians, Arabs, Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines and, of course, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks have all made their contributions to the cultural heritage of Turkey.

Here we must note that the name Anatolia, contrary to some speculations, does not come from the combination of two Turkish words: ‘ana’=mother, and ‘dolu’=full, which suggests a ‘land full of mothers’. Its origins lie in the Byzantine ‘theme’, or division, known as ‘Anatolikon’, for the ‘Eastern’ military district of the Empire.