Even if you’ve got no intention of buying a carpet in Turkey, you need to read this travel tale by Tori Salman. Once travellers are swept up in the magic of the moment, it turns out that very few can resist the temptation of taking home a hand-woven memento of Turkey…
“Carpets and kilims, warps and wefts… I never realised that buying a carpet in Turkey would be so difficult. Many different styles of carpets have been produced in Turkey for centuries, so it wasn’t a lack of choice causing my dilemma. Should it be silk on silk, wool on cotton or wool on wool? Ahh, decisions!
Silk is very strong, can be twisted finely and produces some of the finest hand-woven carpets in the world. Silk is also the most costly. Wool can be spun by hand or machine. Hand-spun wool is preferable, so that the fibres are less likely to break. Wool carpets are not as finely woven as silk, but the result is a more practical, harder wearing carpet.
The fibres are all dyed and there are two options for this process: natural dyes and chemical dyes. Natural dyes are made from animal, vegetable and mineral sources, and they are considered superior because they are less likely to fade.
Finally, the rugs are produced with a range of designs relative to the region in which they are produced. The designs are generally classified into two groups, geometrical or stylized motifs, and naturalistic or floral designs. Each region makes use of different coloured dyes and weaves different motifs that are of importance to their civilisations, representing the origins and culture of their society; therefore, a rug can be considered a cultural item.
So, with all of that information I eventually decided on a woollen carpet with stylized motifs, and chose one in colours that would match my house, rather than relative to a particular region. It took me quite a while and several cups of apple tea to find just the right one. You know I hadn’t even planned to buy a carpet, but shopping for it was great fun and the traders even organised postage with insurance. And now each day I get to remember my wonderful time in Turkey, so I couldn’t be happier!”
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