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/llatch hook 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
Drink tea while you shop
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!
Appreciate the display show.
Men appear from everywhere and start manhandling 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.
Appreciate the colors and stories.
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.
Turkish carpets – the price
Turkish carpets are handmade.
Several people sat side by side for up to a year to create this piece. You shouldn’t expect it to be sold at Walmart prices.
Be prepared to negotiate.
In the United States we are used to a fixed price so we don’t have much experience with negotiating. Not only is it an uncomfortable
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
So interesting!! Not only how they are made but also the shopping experience!
It really is a great experience!
Interesting! Can’t wait to see the one you got!
I look forward to seeing it in our house!
Can’t wait to come over for a magic carpet ride! Lovely rug.
LOL! Where will we go??
Wow. I’m planning to go to Turkey this year and was wondering what was the big deal about carpets in Turkey. Informational thanks!
Enjoy the show! Often rug sellers sell other textiles, too, like pillow cases and table runners.
Very true what you said about carpet salesman luring you in from every corner of Turkey. We managed to avoid them, only because we didn’t want to trek or pay to send a carpet back home, but they are very beautiful rugs.
We actually said, “We are not going to buy a rug.” before we left! LOL! The cost of shipping it often built in so that wasn’t a concern and how anyone could lug that back home is beyond me! The thing weighs 60 pounds. I could hardly drag the package inside the house after the UPS guy left it on the front porch!!
I knew it was a long process but I had no idea it was SO extensive.
It was really something! We drank a gallon of the yummy apple tea while we were there, too. 🙂
In 2001, we visited Samos island, in Greece, and took a one-day excursion to Ephesus in Turkey. Part of the boat/bus tour combo was a demonstration of carpets! I almost bought one, but was on a fixed budget (self-imposed) and I now regret that decision! My kids (both in middle school at the time) and I had all loved the same one! It was quite pricey though!
Aren’t those regrets the worst? But, you have and excuse to go back! 🙂
I love how the rugs are handmade with such quality and care. This is my kind of souvenir. The rug you picked is just what I would have chosen.
Thank you! Tough choice…they were all so beautiful.
I love your selection – can you share some more pics of it when you get it into your house?
Thank you. It was so hard to choose as they were all gorgeous. Will do! We just got it into the dining room last night!
The carpet you chose was beautiful! I had no idea that it took that many people and that long to produce one rug! It really is a piece of art.
Thank you! It is really heavy, too – about 60 pounds! We just love it!
I love the rug you chose. It’s also more blue than red, which predominates in my experience. A well made Turkish rug will last for lifetimes. Mine has through all kinds of abuse.
Thanks! I actually hesitated on the blue because we don’t have much blue in the house. I always defer to my husband as he has the eye for decorating and sure enough – it looks like a million $ in the house! So glad to hear your personal experience with wear and tear. Even though they are supposed to last forever I can’t help but think about babying it. 🙂 I love it so much!
So cool. I love the craftsmanship that goes into each one. The pattern you picked is wonderful. How hard was that to get home?
Thank you! We just love it. The pattern is called Flowers of Seven Hills. 🙂 Thankfully, shipping was included as we would have never gotten that 60 pound thing home!!!
Beautiful hand made carpets! They’re one of those things you never really take the time to think about how much goes into them. AND how much time they take! So thanks for sharing 😀
The company we bought from was a co-op and it was fascinating to hear how it was helping local families.