Turkish carpets: handmade crafts
Exploring Turkish Carpets
Visiting a carpet shop in Turkey is an almost unavoidable experience. It seems handmade Turkish carpets are sold in every shop on every corner. The carpet sellers seek your business with varying degrees of enthusiasm. They will call to you, “Hello, beautiful family!” from everywhere.
What’s the big deal about Turkish carpets anyway?
Turkish carpets are a local handmade treasure.
Carpets have been make in Turkey – by hand, with local materials for thousands for years. Wool, silk, cotton, and dyes are all locally produced. Ladies have passed down the skills to produce carpets from generations to generation. Young women have made them as dowries and homes have looms on the front porch as a way for women to supplement the family’s income.
Turkish carpets have patterns with a story.
The rug weaver follows a pattern which reminds me a lot of a cross stitch pattern. She counts the squares to know how many threads of each color to use – and creates it row by horizontal row. Notice the different patterns and ask about them. Carpet sellers know all the details and are happy to share the information about this amazing craft.
This tribal design was a close 2nd to the carpet we chose.
The colors and patterns are beautiful!
Turkish carpets are high quality.
A handmade rug from Turkey can last for more than 50 years. The saying is that you actually buy a rug for your grandchildren as much as yourself! These handmade rugs are one of the few things that actually increase in value with use.
I love the cool fringe on this one.
Turkish carpets have the turkish knot.
The Turks are proud of the knot they use and how it is symmetrical. (Great knot photos from old carpets.com) Read more about carpet knots here.
Carpets from other places like Persia and Morocco use different knots.
I’m getting a lesson here in this video!
Turkish carpets are a time intensive product.
Rugs take months and months to produce. A large area rug (8×10) can take 3 expert weavers an entire year to produce. Do you craft? Bead/crochet/knit/paint/latchhook? Imagine working 20-30 hours a week WITH 2-3 of your friends working 20-30 hours a week for an entire year. Now THAT is an impressive project!
Turkish carpets are made from several different fibers.
Carpets are made from wool, cotton, or silk. The thinner the thread, the more detailed the design so silk ones have the most detail.
Here we see how silk starts! Silk worms make little cocoons which are made of one very long fiber. How long? Each strand of silk that makes a cocoon is 1 mile long AND it is made of silk worm hardened silkworm spit. The kids had a wonderful time handling the cocoons and what is not to find cool about silkworm spit? When you shake them you can hear the dead worm inside. The cocoons float in the water to soften the fiber.
Next, a very fancy 😉 tool that looks like the end of an old fashioned broom is gently touched on top of the cocoons until the end of each fiber catches on.
Last, the thin fibers are threaded through the machine an wound together to make silk thread.
Turkish carpets: the carpet buying experience
Show even the tiniest flicker of interest in carpets and you’ll be offered tea (Turkish or apple) and asked to sit. Then, the show begins!
Men appear from everywhere and start man handling the carpets, rolling them out on the floor, holding them up to show you what they would look like hanging on the walls. The carpets are heavier then they look and I couldn’t help but think it was quite a bit of exercise for them!! In no time there is a large pile of carpets on the floor. The supply seems endless. Look at the carpets from all angles as the color changes with the nap.
Enjoy the colors, the passion of the salesmen, and the stories of the patterns. Have the kids sit on the pile and imagine a magic carpet ride! Take your shoes off and walk on them. Any carpet you buy will last for generations and it will be hard to choose a favorite as they are all so beautiful.
If you choose to buy, and even after the show and display of 8,000 carpets you do not have to buy, you should negotiate. Bargaining over the price is expected! A common way to get a good price is to actually purchase 2…they have more wiggle room that way. Seeing this souvenir in your home for years and years and years to come will bring smiles and warm memories of your lovely Turkish holiday.
This one is our family souvenir from our Turkish holiday! I hope our grandkids love it as much as we do!
Happy family travels and rich experiences,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist