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Kilim rugsThe difference between a kilim and other carpets like pile rugs is that the design visible on a kilim is made by interweaving wefts and warps of different colors creating what is known as a flatweave. In a pile rug individual short strands of different colored wools are knotted onto the warps and held together by pressing the wefts tightly against each other. In this case the whole design is made by these separately knotted wool strands which form the pile making the patterns clearly visible after the varying lengths of the knotted wool is sheared off to create a level surface. Kilim is a word of Turkish origin denoting a pileless textile with numerous uses produced by applying one of several flatweaving techniques that have a common or closely related heritage and are practiced in the geographical area that includes parts of Turkey, North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia and even China. Kilims are made in the western Anatolian cities of Aydin, Balıkesir, Bergama, Denizli, Eşme, Fethiye, Keles, Manastır, Şarköy, Yuncu and Uşak. In central Anatolia at Karapinar, Konya, Keçimuhsine, Kayseri, Malatya, Mut, Niğde, Obruk and Sivrihisar. And also made in eastern Anatolia at Erzurum, Gaziantep, Kars, Sivas and Van.

Kilim rugsOne of the most important criteria for determining the value of a Turkish carpet is whether the weaver has made of natural materials. Natural materials are more durable than synthetic materials allowing them to last for years. The quality of wool varies in quality according to the climate in which the sheep are raised, the particular breed of the sheep and the time of year in which the sheep is sheared. Wool from sheep that live in warm and arid regions is usually drier and more brittle allowing it to break more easily. The better quality wool comes from healthy, well fed sheep found in colder regions or at higher elevations with abundant grazing land and plenty of water. In Turkish Kilim weaving cotton is used mostly for the warp threads, as well as for the weft. Compared to wool, cotton is usually considered to be a more resistant fiber and less elastic. This allows tighter knots to be tied when using cotton warps as opposed to using wool. Also when tight knots are tied to a wool warp, the fiber is inclined to break much more frequently than if the warps used were of cotton.

Kilim rugs Natural dyes extracted from flowers, roots and insects are used in Turkish Kilims. The use of vegetables, roots and other natural items to make dyes has been a well established art for many thousands of years and this ancient practice has continued unaltered in Anatolia. If you visit areas like Cappadocia you will see woman making these natural dyes. These natural dyes are far better than synthetic dyes. In direct sunlight the synthetic dyes will change color while natural dyes get better and mellow without changing substantially over the years. A simple test is to drag a coin across a rug and if it has been made with synthetic dyes, it will come off the carpet, unlike natural dyes which won't come off the carpet. If you look closely at the rug, the deeper parts away from the exposed surface will have the same color if it is natural dye. Synthetic dyed rugs will have colors that are different from the surface. To understand the esthetic value of a Turkish carpet go back to their origins with nomads living in tents. Their home was simple - just a combination of fabric walls and roof and an earthen floor. The floor was not anything heated or elaborate, but just a simple carpet laid directly onto the earth that provided warmth and comfort for those who lived in the tent.

Kilim rugsMehlika Seval conducts numerous tours in Turkey and one of the kind of tours she offers is a carpet weaver tour where she takes tourists to the weavers allowing them to see the entire process of Turkish carpets being made. She has been guiding cultural tours in Turkey for 30 years and introduced thousands of travelers to the cultural aspects of Turkish Anatolia. On her tours she emphasizes how the cultures of Anatolia have been and still are the synthesis of the old Anatolian civilizations. The ancient sites are explained against the backdrop of a modern and progressive country. As a guide, a writer, a copywriter for PBS travel videos and as a tour operator, she directs her efforts at showing the beauty of Anatolia and the warm hospitality of the Turkish people to her guests. Her tour company also conducts tours of Morocco, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, West China and Mongolia as well.

Mehlika Seval can be contacted through her website at: www.melitour.com

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- The designs of Magali Arbib can now be purchased online on her website -
- childrens furnishings and accessories as well as vintage items and art - all from France -
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