Kilim of the Month – or perhaps the year ;)

Kilim of the month:

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An absolute joy to behold! It doesn’t matter how many times I look at this kilim, I am always finding something else to admire.  The maker of this piece did such an amazing job.  We were commenting on how much fun it seems she must have had making this.  Which I guess is a strange assumption to make but the energy and joy emulating from this kilim is truly palpable.

So, the technical stuff out of the way.  This kilim is approximately 70-80 years old and completely hand woven (of course! What machine could create such beauty!!).  It was woven using 100% hand spun wool only and was woven in the slit weave technique.  This creates the ‘gaps’ seen throughout the kilim.

We (and others) were slightly undecided about the providence of this kilim so we have left it as Western Anatolia.   It could be Sivas, Milas, even Aydin….perhaps Antalya region?

And to the fun stuff: Just a few pics of what I love the most about this piece.

The first is the 4 and ½ central medallions, all different to each other in colour and design but working together seamlessly to create such an interesting piece.1-g74

 

Next and perhaps my personal favourite is the differences between the filler motifs found between the concentric hooks and the borders.  Every single section has completely different motifs.  Traditionally these spaces are filled by family and friends of the weaver, almost like a signature or tag that they were there, weaving with her at that time.

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Usually there appears to be some resemblance of order still in the filler motifs but not so in this piece.  The motifs and their scale are all different. Some seem incomplete, some are evenly spread out, others cramped together.  It just all works together when it probably shouldn’t.

My partner’s favourite part: the border.  The changing colour combinations, the finesse of the workmanship, all beautifully presented and framing the kilim masterfully.

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Another notable feature is the natural abrash flowing throughout.  The hand spun wool and the natural dying process creates uneven tones in the wool.

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On the down side (if you see it as such) the edges aren’t entirely even but to me that just reinforces the notion that something made by hand, over a period of time will show some testament  to its process; and I still love it…

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This kilim has just arrived in our new shipment and can be viewed and purchased here.

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The warm and generous spirit of Turkish people revealed again…

Such a long time in between posts which is odd considering what wonderful and exhausting times have been had…

We had an amazing trip back to Turkey. Which was fantastic to meet and spend time with all the people who help us put together such unique and lovely items in our shop.
We have some wonderful new items coming in our next 2 shipments. All of which I am excited to tell you all about when they arrive. But first I wanted to share one story that I think sums up well how extraordinarily blessed we are to work with the people that we do. And also gives an insight into the generous and caring nature of some Turkish people.

After a 5 year stint of me personally not being back in Turkey, my excitement was palpable. My list of people and places to see while not impossible, I can say it was extensive. Between meeting face to face the people I often chat to on Skype and looking forward to learning more and more from people far more experienced than me in the world of kilims and Anatolian arts; we can say that it would have been a jam packed trip.
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And then, our second day in my father who had also joined us, became ill. So we graciously accepted a lift to the Istanbul emergency ward from a man who we had recently started doing business with. Istanbul traffic at the best of times is a nightmare but this man happily navigated us there, waited for hours with us, negotiated with hospital staff , and then wanted to shout US to dinner! This was just one person and how they helped us in one way. This experience was repeated again and again.

So all our plans were put on hold. To do list torn up. We still had a mountain of work to be done and it seemed impossible now that we could do it all. I think by the grace of God, we got it all done. Family members, work colleagues and even previous strangers helped us in so many ways to be able to simultaneously care for my father and manage to get 2 shipments out of Turkey and on their way to Australia.

Even today, no conversation with any of our suppliers and makers ends without questions regarding my father. “How is his health?” “ Is there anything I can do?” “We will see each other again in-sha-Allah!”

The love, warmth and respect shown by all of them, to a previous stranger was and still is overwhelming. And I think overall made me appreciate once again the generous and kind spirit of so many Turkish people.
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Turkish kilims: The complete process series – WOOL

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The complete process series – WOOL

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A very large part of the reason why Anatolian kilims last as long as they do is because of the wool.  You have original high quality wool which from its beginning to its last process;  retains its natural lanolin qualities. This is such an integral part of Turkish kilims so I thought an in depth look at this element would be beneficial.

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Wool and nomads have a history intertwined and shaped by each other.  The herds need to be constantly grazing in year round pastures made the nomadic lifestyle an obviously path.  From these herds the nomads made virtually all living accessories including their homes in the form of yurts (tents), kilims, camel bags, sitting bags, saddles, harnesses, blankets, shawls, socks…. and from making these items themselves; a cultural outlet of brilliance and creativity in their distinct colours, motifs and designs; which ultimately led to it being the primary source of visual tribal identity.

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I can remember seeing my first sheep in Turkey and was initially quite perplexed  by the fat dangling bulbous tails.  How weird I thought.  Our sheep in Australia are not like that! It was after a quick google I discovered that in actual fact it was the Turks sheep which were in their natural state and us Aussies who were docking the tails of our sheep. 

 

So how do we get from this:

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To one of these:

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CUT IT

Firstly the sheep and fleece; there are over 22 varieties of sheep that graze the pastures of Turkey.  Caring for and expertly cutting the fleece from the sheep was usually the sole domain of the men.  Once separated from the sheep the fleece is usually the responsibly of the women’s side (except for the spinning of the wool in some groups). 

In terms of the fleece there are variations within breeds and within the herds that produce the best wool.  It was in the nomads’ best interest to know which of their herd produce the best wool for which purpose.  The best wool comes from:

1st – wethers and castrated males

2nd – ewes

3rd – intact males (least valuable)

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In addition to this; the area of the sheep from where the wool is cut also has grades in terms of quality.  The neck, shoulders and back produce the finest wools and are the parts chosen for spinning.  Whilst the tail, belly and legs wool is inferior and more typically used for felt making.

And just to throw another condition into the mix, the first clipping of the season produces better wool than the second.

 

SORT IT

The women sort the fleece into piles depending on what the wool will be used for. Weaving, knitting, felting etc.   A further sorting can be undertaken to sorting wefts, warps and piles.  This hand sorting process is the fundamental explanation of why Anatolian nomadic rugs are made to such a high standard.  A women choosing and sorting her wool for her own personal dowry piece is going to be much more discerning about her collection of fleece.  She is representing herself and her skills.  She will choose the best.  Mixing inferior fleece with quality fleece at this stage compromises the final result.

WASH IT

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So once we have this mass of sorted fleece and dirt and twigs it is time to wash it. The ample presence of running streams throughout Turkey is the perfect cleaning space.  Washed and dried it is time for the next step; carding or combing.

COMB IT

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Combing and carding are similar processes but the different resulting wool is more desirable in certain items.  In kilims, combing is more desirable as the wool fibres become aligned with each other and after spinning create flatter wool and kilims with clearer designs and luminous colours.  Carding would produce fluffier wool more convenient to jumpers and socks. 

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SPIN IT

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From the Bronze Age to present day, ancient civilisations to western nations women have been spinning yarn and wool in much the same why (until recently).  Anatolian nomads favoured the drop-spindle. The natural inclination of the wool fibres to stretch and mend together is exploited allowing the spinner to hand feed the combed fleece through to the spindle.  Now at this point I could go on for another page about the variations in spindles, z spin or s spin, which spinning creates certain wool for a particular purpose but lets face it.  At this point I am already amazed at the work required and attention to detail shown by the weavers and I don’t think I would do the topic justice. 

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     Our next part in the series will be looking at the loom.

 

 

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Top 5 picks: from the new shipment

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We received our new shipment and I thought I might show you my top 5 picks out of the newly arrived kilims. Not saying that they are the best, just my highly subjective personal choices  #1 Antique Cal kilim … Continue reading

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Kilim of the Month: Esme

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Possibly one of my husband’s favourites so I thought I would pay homage to one of the 3 (make that 2) stunning antique Esme kilims that we have in store. From afar, the overall look is pleasing to the eye … Continue reading

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Q: ‘Yastik’ – is a small Turkish carpet mat or a pillow?

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  BOTH! ‘Yastik’ – meaning pillow in Turkish is also the term used to refer to small carpet mats. It may seem a stretch but once you understand the nomadic history of these items it makes perfect sense. Just like … Continue reading

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Turkish handmade carpets (rugs): regions and designs PART 1

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Today I am taking a look at the range of handmade Turkish carpets. Often the names are derived from the region that they are woven in and generally speaking each region will have a distinctive style. I have put pictures … Continue reading

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