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



‘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 pillows are a standard feature of bedding today as they were for the Anatolian nomads. Unlike most people today, they made their own and made them to last (sometimes for over a century).

The front would be made from all hand spun wool usually made in a double knotted pile (carpet) featuring the designs, motifs and colours traditional to the weavers family. Silk, velvet and cotton were also utilised.  There are also kilim (flat woven) ones that look similar in function but these were more used as bags and storage sacks rather than pillows. The carpet pile makes for a much more comfortable sleep as the soft hand spun wool pile ends up more like a silk pillow after years and years of use.


Even after Anatolian nomads had become settles or semi-settled yastik pillows were still popular being used in the divan or floor sitting area.
So while the front of the pillow remains strong and becomes ever more beautified through time, the backs (usually made from flat woven undyed cotton) become stained, tattered and ultimately un-usable. So the backs will either be replaced to continue use as a pillow or cut off entirely and they will start their life re-incarnated as a small mat – “yastik”.


In their second life these yastik can make perfect door mats (very durable and hiding dirt well); unique wall hangings or on coffee tables.

cal yastik - sold
Often mistakenly identified as ‘prayer mats’; these pieces are not prayer mats as they are too narrow for praying and do not feature the single mihrab (niche pointing to the direction of prayer).

Anique Kirsehir yastik
When originally made they would have been made as a matching set yet today it is so hard to find a pair of previous sleeping buddies. And if you do have one of these beautiful yastiks in your home, you can ponder where in the world its mate ended up 

You can check out some of our range of yastiks made available for sale online here http://www.nomadicson.com.au/smaller-carpets/

Gallery | This entry was posted in Carpet of the Month, Nomads, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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