Kilim Rug History

Kilim rug weaving is an ancient handcraft and appears very early in all regions inhabited by nomadic Turkish groups.

The oldest known knotted Turkish kilim rug known as the Pazyrik carpet. Which was discovered in a barrow-tomb in the Altai mountains, dates back to the 4th century BC (Turan ,htlm.).

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The Turkish arts of textile-making and kilim rug weaving flourished particularly in Anatolia. This is where some of the world’s finest kilim rugs were woven in centers. Such as; Konya, Usak, and Bergama during the Seljuk, Feudal, and Ottoman periods. In the course of time kilim rugs were woven with some patterns to avoid the wrath of nature like storm, flood, heat, cold, death or wild animals sent to them by gods. Before that, they used to inscribe the symbols on rocks. Later they put the kilim rugs in graves.

Late in the 19 th century researches about kilim rugs reveal that for centuries kilim rugs have been used by women. Mediums to express their feelings relating to love, death, fear through the patterns, motifs they weave. Because women were the weavers while her man was at hunt or war. So, it is obvious that a kilim rug has its own individual “sub-text”, its own wealth of inherent intellectual, artistic, emotional and sensory messages . That’s, kilim rugs are cultural and psychological chronicals of the society. So, it is a must to disguise the motifs on kilims. Because they may help inform us about Turkish culture and family structure of the past ages.

Mitheth vintage kilim 3x4ft 102x127cm 1024x774 - Kilim Rug History

Kilim rug must be regarded as an expression of abstract art at the most creative and profound level. Reflexions of collective thoughts, experiences and emotions.

The limitation of the research is bounded with the most common motifs on the kilim rugs of Anatolia in general. Semiology is a discipline which was introduced by Ferdinand de Saussure in Europe at the beginning of 20th century. Then followed by an American logician, Charles Saunders Pierce. Semiology, or semiotics, is a science which studies signs. According to Saussure, language is a sign system containing signifiers and signifieds. They convey meaning but, refer to something else.

Pierce claimed that there was a relationship between the signifier and signified which could be:

  • Iconic, which means the relationship between the sign and the signifier is almost the same, so similiar- it is like a photograph, or a picture;
  • Indexical, which means the relationship isnot arbitrary, but casual (fire/smoke);
  • Symbolic, that’s the relationship is arbitrary, depending on social learning (pigeon-peace/ balance-justice)

The patterns and motifs on a kilim rug have a symbolic language. Thus, many symbolic, iconic or indexical motifs (signs) on kilim rugs can help transfer the cultural data of that time to the present day. Therefore kilims are media of transferring cultural heredity as well.


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