May 21 - 27, 2017: Issue 313


 Traditional way of spinning wool thread for carpet weaving.


By George Repin

The term Turkish Carpet is commonly applied to rugs and carpets woven by ethnic groups in the geographic region of Asia Minor and adjacent areas, which were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire.  Carpet weaving is a traditional art dating back to pre-Islamic times, producing a knotted, pile-woven floor or wall covering. The designs, motifs and ornamentation of the carpets reflect the ethnic origins and political history of the weavers and the diversity of the area.

Interest in woven carpets developed in Western Europe after the 12th Century CE.  Turkish carpets became regarded as objects of art and can be seen in Renaissance paintings.

In the nineteenth century an increasing demand arose on the international market for handmade carpets, with an unfortunate effect.  Because making traditional, hand-woven, naturally dyed Turkish carpets is labour-intensive and time consuming short cuts were adopted in an attempt to save resources and costs.  Synthetic dyes, non-traditional weaving tools like the power loom and standardised designs were introduced.  There resulted a rapid breakdown of the tradition, and a degeneration of an art, which had been nurtured for centuries.

The loss of cultural heritage was recognised in the late twentieth century and initiatives taken to re-establish the old tradition of carpet weaving from hand spun, naturally dyed wool resulting in renewed customer interest.  Once again the colour schemes and design features, and use of the classic Turkish double knot, made the carpets recognisable as distinctively “Turkish”.

In traditional households women and girls take up weaving as a hobby and as a way of earning money.

Only natural fibres are used in handmade rugs. Sheep wool is the material most frequently used for the pile.  It is soft, durable, easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. It insulates against heat and cold, does not react electrostatically and is less susceptible to dirt than cotton. The colours of natural wool – white, brown, fawn, yellow and grey – allow it to be used without dying, but it also takes dyes well.  Wool yarn is made susceptible to the appropriate dyes by immersion in a mordant before immersion in the dyeing solution.  It is then left to dry exposed to air and sunlight. Before it can be used for weaving several strands must be twisted together for strength.

Preparing wool thread for weaving.

Preparing wool thread for weaving.

Cotton is used mainly for the foundation of the rug – the warps and wefts.  It is stronger than wool and, when used for the foundation makes a carpet lie flat.  Wool on cotton allows for more intricate design patterns than wool on wool as cotton can be finely spun allowing for a higher knot count.
Silk on silk (silk pile on silk warp and weft) is the most intricate type of carpet with a very fine weave.

Boiling silk worm cocoons for extraction of silk thread.

Spinning silk thread.

Traditional dyes are obtained from plants, insects and minerals.  Despite the availability of cheap readily prepared synthetic dyes the tradition of natural dyeing has been revived since the 1980s.  The dyeman is a key man in the production process.

The dyeman.

Weaving is performed on traditional looms.  In Anatolia the pile knots are knotted by hand using the symmetrical Turkish double knot.  The pile in Turkish carpets is usually between 2mm and 4mm thick – the upright pile usually falling in one direction because of the way the pile yarn is cut.
Today historians are showing an increasing interest in the origins and traditions associated with Turkish carpet design.

Girl weaving a carpet on a loom. Skeins of dyed wool thread hanging above the loom.

                 Girl tying knots on a loom.                         

(Photographs taken by George Repin in Denizli Turkey in 1997)

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia   Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images Gardens Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist  Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge  Gingerbread Houses   Cape Sounion   Delos  Wroclaw  Colonial Williamsburg  Gruyères   Strasbourg  Coventry Cathedral  The Roman Theatre at Aspendos  

Copyright George Repin 2017. All Rights Reserved.