“What does Hereke mean”? I asked all those years ago
“The best.” replied my father-in-law. And undoubtedly most rug dealers and collectors the world over would attest to the same. An illustrious history combined with quality that still today makes them amongst the most desired carpets.
Hereke Carpets are only produced in Hereke, a coastal town in Turkey, 60 km from Istanbul. The materials used are silk, a combination of wool and cotton and sometimes gold or silver threads. They are the epitome of quality traditional Turkish carpets.
The Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I founded the Hereke Imperial Factory in 1841 to produce all the textiles for his Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus. He gathered the best artists and carpet weavers of the former Ottoman Empire in Hereke, where they began producing high quality rugs and large carpets with unique patterns. Sultan Abdulmecid asserted that the greatest palaces in the world should also display the finest carpets in the world.
After completing work on the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Ottoman Sultans used to give Hereke carpets as gifts to selected visiting royalties, noblemen and statesmen. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, Hereke weavers produced their unique craft exclusively for the aristocracy of the Ottoman Empire, visiting dignitaries and heads of state. Fine Hereke hand knotted carpets have been presented as gifts to the royal families of Japan, Russia, Germany and England and the President of the United States.
It was not until 1890 that some traders in Istanbul were allowed to sell some of the pieces made at Hereke. With the end of the Ottoman Empire the production of Hereke carpets was restricted until the middle of the 20th century when some master-weavers in Hereke began once more to produce the carpets in continuation of the tradition of the Ottoman Palace Carpets.
Hereke carpets typically are very large, palace sized carpets, and are made with wool on cotton, camel hair on cotton, silk on cotton as well as silk on silk, which are knotted in small sizes. The precision of their double knots (Turkish or Ghiordes knots), which allows the clear display of patterns, together with the colour combinations and the harmonious patterns have made them highly collectible. Today, Hereke carpets and rugs are still made with the traditional patterns of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I, as well as both traditional Anatolian and contemporary figurative patterns. Hereke rugs have a distinct weaving method incorporating double warp lines. This combined with the Double Turkish knots and a high KPI (knots per inch) makes for one of the most durable carpets available.
Traditional Hereke carpet designs are elaborate floral designs with such romantic names like the ‘Flowers of Seven Mountains’, ‘Flowers of Feilds’, ‘bin çeçik’ (1000 flowers).
We have a very small collection of handmade Hereke carpets available on our website. They feature the traditional designs and the quality of the wool feels luxurious; as all good Hereke carpets should.