Kilim of the month – March ’13

Cal cushion #b65
Well not really a kilim as such but a çuval, a nomadic cushion used either for storage or as a pillow, actually both. This is such a sweet piece though so I wanted to take a closer look at it.

It is approximated at over 80 years old, all hand woven in the province of Çal in Western Anatolia. It was woven using hand spun and hand dyed wool in the flat weave technique.

Front of Cal pillow #b65
Two things I love about this piece straight away is:
1) The fineness of the weave. Such fine weaving that it really is a testament to the weaver, she was obviously a very skilled and accomplished weaver. In this next picture you can see how thin she spun the wool and the overall intricacy of her design. She even took the time to weave ‘outlines’ around the motifs (shown in the red and light purple). It is not unheard of to see this but certainly not the norm either. It adds great visual depth to the piece.

close up

2) The colour harmony. The Anatolian weavers just have such a gift for colour combinations! Although there is a mixture of natural and synthetic dyes in this piece, they just work together so brilliantly.

The front and back are completely different to each other. The front being this magical kaleidoscopic colour arrangement and then the back a simple undyed natural wool colour in banded stripes.

back of b65
Inside the bands sits the ‘çapraz’ (‘s’ motif) thought to act as an Anatolian talisman offering protection to the weaver and her family. I love how she choose to leave the lines running from each ‘s’ as well, normally you just see the ‘s’, nothing else but she has these wonderful runs of colour all the way through it.

detail of weave
This theme of colour runs is continued on the side of the cushion as well with alternating colours used to finish off the sides.

stitching on side with colours
And also the top and bottom of the bag/pillow/cushion has bands of colour of various thicknesses as well.

coloured stripes at the top

There is a small motif found only at the top on both sides, 3 small triangles joined together, I’m not sure what this means but something I’ve been wondering and searching about but no luck so far. Perhaps a tribe sign? Or another form of the ‘amulet’ motif?

triangular motif
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find pieces like this that have their original backs and in such good condition. But this piece has really stood the test of time. I wonder about what journeys it was taken on, the women and men who surrounded it. I found this picture and it represents for me some of those possibilities.

Pic taken from Nomads of Anatolia – by Harald Bohmer


You can check this cushion and others at

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