A Brief History of Kilim Rugs
"Kilim" is a Turkish word used when referring to carpets that have been interwoven by hand using wool pile. As a result, Kilims appear less fluffy than hand-knotted carpets. Some experts claim that these types of carpets were originally made by southern Tunisians and that the craft has since spread to nomads located in Turkey, Irak, Iran, Pakistan, China, India or Morocco. Other experts believe that their birthplace is in the Near East and South-Eastern coast of Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Bessarabia). Their major factories are found to be in Anatolia, Persia and Caucasia. Historical research reveals that Kilims have traditionally occupied different functions in time.
In certain cultures, they were give as a dowry gift to future brides and held the same important standing as household linen. In other contexts, they served as a bedding area for camels. Nowadays, we can find Kilims on a homes hard wood floor or even hanging on the walls of homes as pieces of art. Kilim carpets are fragile because their structure, as their weaving techniques, is very simple: horizontal thread weaves alternatively go above and under the vertical thread chains. After every new pick, the thread weave sequence is reversed. Since the thread weave is paused at every color change, one can spot little gaps between the colours. This is a common characteristic of Kilim carpets.
In contrast with the simple structure and weaving techniques, the carpet's composition is quite complex. The geometrical and floral designs are juxtaposed, overlapped, head-to-tail, in zigzags or in continuous curves such as the grapevines, leaves and styled clovers along the borders. Carnations and tulips, the preferred flowers of ottoman weavers, are alternated with diamond designs, running dogs, Aries' horns and two-headed birds which are common to all Kilims from the Near East. The most important design is by far the gol, which is a geometric drawing inscribed in a hexagon.
Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.