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Turkish Carpet Weaving, the oldest handicraft of Turks

turkish carpetHand knotted or flat woven Turkish Carpets are among the best known art works in the world. Such effects as religion, environment, culture inspired the weavers during history. Carpet weaving originates from the traditions of nomadic Turkic peoples and tribes settling around central Asia and this art developed during Seljuk Period.

While the Turks were living in Central Asia they were nomadics. Most of the times the women had to stay in the tents for daily works and waiting for their men to come back. But sometimes the life was a bit boring as they had nothing else to do than staying in the tents. So they began to search for some ways of making their lifes more entertaining. One of the things they did was to weave the carpets. They wove what they used to think about the life including their dreams, their sorrows and so on and the designs that we admire today were born. Their life always inspired them. So every carpet tells us a different story: difficulties of nomadic life, happiness of a bride, regrets for a death… All are the truths of life. We see the reality on Turkish carpets.

Today Turkish carpets and rugs are made in a wide area in so many designs  and they differ from each other in accordance with the material used, construction method and cultural identity.pazyryk carpet

The oldest known hand knotted rug is Pazyryk Carpet found by Sergei Rudenko in Pazyryk burial on Altai Mountains in 1940s. This carpet dates back to 4th BC. Some experts associate this carpet with nomadic Turkic Peoples.

Besides Turkic peoples there are some documentary records about the usage of hand knotted carpets by different civilizations. Greeks and Persians were some of them. The knotted carpets reached at Asia Minor and Middle East with the migrations of the nomadic Turks in 8th and 9th centuries.

There were very few information about the rugs and carpets until the 12th-14th centuries when Seljuks used them in the mosques.

The works about the history of carpets and rugs flourished in the 19th century after the large cottage industry and workshops in Iran, Azerbaijan and Cental Asia. In the borders of Turkey, Yoruks, Turkomen and other tribal groups stil carry on this tradition.

Generally it is not entered to the house with the shoes on in Turkish Culture. The shoes must be taken off so as to keep the ground floor clean from the dust and dirt of the outdoor. So the inhabitants of the house can take a rest on the floor. Today the women and young ladies weave carpets as hobby and for making money. The ladies learn this art at young ages. Because it takes such a long time to be an expert on weaving and getting skills of being fast. We know that it takes so long to weave a carpet ranging from months to years.

How to weave a Turkish Carpet

Turkish knot 

Turkish Knot



Persian knot


Persian Knot



There are some tools needed for weaving a carpet, some of which are loom (vertical and horizontal, floor), knives, design plates, scissors, spindles, hooks and combs.carpet weaving

The main difference of a Turkish carpet is about the weaving method and the knots. This method is called ghiordes or “Turkish Knot” where each knot is made on two warps. With this form, each end of the pile thread is wrapped all the way around the two warps, pulled down and cut, making the carpet stronger than single knot senneh or “Persian knot”.

It is quite interesting that the Seljuk rugs found in Konya, the capital of Anatolian Seljuks, are double knotted in the same style as the carpet found in Pazyryk.

Ottoman rug and carpet designers also used the silk in the warp in Istanbul and Bursa. The first carpet factory with 100 looms was opened in 1891 by Abdulhamit II in Hereke. Today same patterns are followed in Anatolia, around Kayseri, Sivas, Konya and Isparta.



The materials used in handmade carpets are natural only. The most commons are wool, silk and cotton. It is not very common but goat and camel hair are also used by nomadic and village weavers.

For being soft, durable, easy to work with, wool is the most used pile material in handmade carpets. It comes from the coats of sheep. The colors are also obtained naturally from there: white, brown, yellow, gray.

Cotton is used in the foundation of rugs.

Wool on wool, is the most traditional and authentic type of Anatolian carpets. These carpets are more tribal with nomadic designs.

Wool on cotton, is a combination which is often indicative of “city rug”. There are more floral designs on them.

Silk on silk, features a very fine weave. These carpets are smaller, more beautiful and it takes much more time to complete.