Kilim of the Month: Esme

Antique Esme Kilim #c49

Antique Esme Kilim #c49

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 but it is once you start to look closer that you begin to take in all the details and can appreciate just how much work has gone into such a piece. It is quite extraordinary.

esme kilim #c49
First things first though: It is 100% hand woven using natural dyes with hand spun wool for the wefts and hand spun cotton for the warps. It was woven in the slit weave technique (which involves wrapping the warp with the same coloured weft and continuing different coloured wefts on different warps, producing slits or gaps in the kilim). A diagram below shows slit weave versus a flat weave.


IMG_9944 Flat weave and slit weave

The combination of hand spun wool, naturally sourced dyes and weaving the kilim gradually over time produces what is known as ‘abrash’ throughout the entire kilm. This is the subtle and sometimes not so subtle tonal changes within the one colour. Abrash adds great visual interest to any kilim and indeed kilims that have no abrash tend to look flat and lifeless in comparison.

Not so subtle abrash in the border

Not so subtle abrash in the border

It is approximated at 100 years old meaning a truly antique kilim and was woven in the west Anatolian region of Usak in Esme (esh-mare).  The weaving is so fine and tight that it is almost hard to believe. I put a needle and thread next to it to give you an idea how fine the weaving was.

The tightness of the weave and how thin the wool was spun.

The tightness of the weave and how thin the wool was spun.

The strict geometric design features a relatively small main field with 3 hexagons inside of which sits the ‘nazar’ (eye) motif woven for protection.

IMG_9929 IMG_9928 IMG_9927

Outside of these hexagons but still in the main field are a vast array of filler motifs, namely ‘blossoms’ (thought to be woven for happiness) and the ‘wolf print’ (to offer protection for the nomads herds from predators). Also found is the ‘cross’ motifs, again woven for protection.

IMG_9932 esme kilim

The majority of the kilim is made up with its borders. 3 major border evenly spaced with ‘wolf print’ and blossom motifs again as well as ‘capraz’ (s motif) acting like an Anatolian talisman and various smaller motifs that possibly acted as mnemonic motifs. These types of motifs are placed by the weaver’s family and friends who will weave (seemingly) random motifs, symbols, signs so the weaver can remember them once she moves off to another village.

Another feature of this kilim and also virtually all Anatolian kilims and carpets is the corners of the borders. If you look closely at the corners of the borders you will notice that none are the same. There will always be something different about each one. I have included the pictures of all three borders on each side so you can see what I mean.

corner borders 1

corner borders 2

corner borders 3

corner borders 4

Fascinating isn’t it?! Well at least to me it is 

All in all there is so much to love about this kilim and it feels like one of the ones you would never grow tired off, always discovering something new.

IMG_9939 IMG_9938
I am beginning to understand why some of the Istanbul carpet dealers wanted to buy all 3 of antique Esme kilims…

Cross motif

Cross motif

Gallery | This entry was posted in Kilim of the Month, Motifs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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