What is the Turkish Carpets?
Turkish carpet or Turkish rug weaving, which is one of the first weaving traditions that come to mind when it comes to authentic carpets in the world, tells the history of Turks and Turkish culture that stretches over centuries and many geographies through Turkish carpet and kilim motifs.
When we look at the history, the carpet was an item that the Turks sat on, laid on the ground to keep the inside of their tents warm or decorated the walls, but over time it took its place as a work of art in Turkish culture.
Carpet culture came to Anatolia with the migration of Turks from Central Asia to Anatolian lands. It is also known as “Anatolian Carpet”. It is one of the most well-known and oldest handicraft products in the world, together with plain weaves such as rugs (kilims).
All the carpets woven in Anatolia are called Turkish carpets, but the classical Turkish carpets that have gained fame as “Turkish Carpets” or ”Turkish Rugs” are carpets woven in the west of Anatolia and mostly in the Aegean Region and its surrounding provinces.
History of the Turkish Carpets
Central Asian Carpets
Knotted carpets first appeared in the steppes of Central Asia in very early times. It is accepted that it is an art form arising from the living conditions of the nomads belonging to the steppe culture and that the Turkish tribes play the biggest role in carpet production.
The oldest known carpet in history, BC. 3.-2. It is the “Pazirik Carpet” discovered by the Archaeologist Rudenko in the Pazirik region of the Altai mountains, dating back to the 16th century. This carpet, with 36000 Gordes knots (as known as Turkish Knots) in 10 square centimeters, was a work of mastery that could not be reached in later periods. Attracting attention all over the world with its richness of motifs, incredible fineness and weaving features, Pazirik Carpet was first published in 1953 and aroused great interest.
Abbasid (Samarra) Carpets
During the Abbasid period, weaving became a cultural tradition brought to the west from Central Asia with the Turks. Some examples, which are considered to have remained in the Abbasid period and were woven in Samarra or thought to have been woven in Asia and brought to Samarra by the Turks, have been found during excavations. These examples are exhibited at the Cairo Museum, the Gotheburg Röhss Museum in Sweden and the Stockholm National Museum.
A piece of the Samarra carpet on the side is on display at the Gotheburg Röhss Museum in Sweden.
Seljuk Period Carpets
With the conquest of Anatolia, the belief, culture and art of the Turks entered the Anatolian lands with them. We do not have any examples of carpets or rugs from the Great Seljuks, but; The Konya Seljuk carpets, which have reached today from the beginning of the 13th century, can be considered as a continuation of the Great Seljuks.
During the reign of Anatolian Seljuks in Anatolia, cities such as Konya, Kayseri and Sivas became carpet centers and Turkish carpets spread to non-Muslim regions as well. In the 13th century, workshop carpeting developed and large-sized carpets began to be produced. Although the examples from the Great Seljuk period have not survived, the examples of the Anatolian Seljuks have survived to the present day. Twenty-eight carpets are known from the Anatolian Seljuk era.
These carpets did not attract anyone’s attention until 1905, when explorer Martin discovered the Seljuk carpets in the Konya Alaeddin Mosque. These carpets did not attract anyone’s attention until 1905, when explorer Martin discovered the Seljuk carpets in the Konya Alaeddin Mosque. Martin published these carpets in his work “A History of Oriental Carpets Before 1800 (Vienna, 1908)” in 1908.
It is known that these carpets were used decoratively for the first time in the paintings of European painters, especially Italians. Lorenzo Lotto, Carlo Crivelli and Hans Holbein are some of the painters who use Turkish carpets in their paintings. These characteristic lines and motifs used in the animal figured carpets of Anatolia continue throughout the 16th and 17th centuries; but then it disappears. Although Anatolian carpets have been sold to Western countries since the 13th century, they became a symbol of prestige for European aristocrats in the 14th century.
Ottoman Period Carpets
During the Ottoman period, the geometric and characteristic features of Anatolian carpets disappeared. The effect of highly stylized and geometrical compositions with plant motifs and exaggerated patterns was evident in carpets throughout the 16th century. Carpets in this style were called “Holbein Carpets”. The reason for giving this name is; It was because the German painter Holbein painted carpets in his paintings.
Turkish carpets reached their golden age in the 16th century. A large amount of carpets were woven to meet the needs of palaces and mosques, and traces of Ottoman architectural art were seen in the carpets.
Two types of carpets are woven during this period; Palace carpets and Ushak (Uşak) carpets. Palace carpets are carpets woven by artisans in the Ottoman palace. These carpets, unlike Anatolian carpets, are woven with the Iranian knot called “sine”. While Iranian influences were dominant in the colors and patterns of the palace carpets, it gained an Anatolian character over time. Naturalistic patterns such as tulips, hyacinths, carnations and pomegranate flowers, which were the main theme of Ottoman art in this period, also showed themselves on carpets.
Ushak (Uşak) carpets, on the other hand, were carpets exported to Europe, which developed rapidly from the 16th century and became a classic. It is divided into two as Medallion and Star Ushak (Uşak) Carpets. While the medallions could be up to 10 meters long, the Star Ushak (Uşak) carpets were less than 4 meters long. It was generally produced on the orders of Europeans. The medallion “Uşak” carpet was depicted on the floor in the painting depicted for the British royal family in 1570 during the reign of Henry the 8th.
World-Famous Hereke Carpets
Turkish carpet continued to develop until the end of the 19th century, and a carpet factory named Hereke was established in Istanbul by Sultan Abdülmecit in 1844. Thus, the production of the world-famous Hereke carpets started. The carpets woven in this factory won the title of the best quality hand-woven carpet recognized by the whole world in various international fairs. It is a factory that has managed to survive until today after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The factory in question today is affiliated to the National Palaces of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and continues to function as a “Museum Factory” as the most important establishment of the historical heritage of Turkish Industry. Today, many Turkish companies produce these carpets with the Hereke technique. Other examples in Dolmabahçe Palace;
A new article will be published on the meanings of motifs in Turkish carpets in the future. I hope our article was useful for you.