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Characteristics Of Certain Turkish Rugs

AKHISSAR rugs have a thick pile, and are loosely woven. Their colors are usually red and green. Rugs of mohair are made at Akhissar.

Anatolia, or Asia Minor, produces both rugs and mats of good quality. The Anatolian rug is large and very heavy. The Anatolian mats are made in large numbers, and are very thick and soft. They are used by the natives for pillows.. Some are very beautiful ; and although many are turned out with aniline dyes, many others are splendidly colored with vegetable dyes. The designs are many and varied.

Bergamo (ancient Pergamos) rugs have a long, silky pile, and are almost square. They are quite thick, and have geometrical figures in the centre, while the borders are floral in effect. The colors are rich, generally yellow, green, red, and blue. A red webbing at each end carries a blue or yellow embroidered stripe. Antique Bergamos are very beautiful.

Brusa (Broussa) had a fresh impetus in the rug industry a few years ago. Very fine and beautiful silk rugs are woven there now by Turkish women and girls. The Great Mosque and the Mosque of the Thunderbolt at Brusa both contain rare old rugs.



Cesarean rugs have a thicker pile than any of the rugs woven in Anatolia. They are garish in color and are stained with chemical dyes. Large numbers are turned out by the factories, but they in no way resemble the good rugs of former years, except in their durability.

Cassaba (see Sparta) rugs.

Demirdji rugs are a product of modern growth, unknown thirty-five years ago. To-day the town is a large manufacturing centre. The rugs bear strong Turkish elements. They are heavy and durable, and woven of excellent wool when of the first quality. There are, however, three different qualities. The weavers of these rugs have a small pattern which they reproduce in the large sizes.

Ghiordes rugs of antiquity are not in the market. Once in a decade it is possible such a rug changes hands, but this is either the result of lack of knowledge on the part of the owner, or because he is in pecuniary straits. The rug derives its name from the ancient town of Ghiordium, and its form is that of a prayer rug. The weavers were most painstaking, and used the finest of dyes and designs. The hanging mosque lamp, or a tree form, is suspended from the high point of the niche, and a column appears on either side of the field, extending to the spandrels. Above is a horizontal panel, and there is generally one below the field. In colors there is a discriminating, use of the old porcelain blue, rare green, red, yellow, ivory, and white. When white was chosen, the weavers often substituted cotton for wool, thinking it would keep its purity of tone longer. The field is generally in one of these solid colors. The borders are most interesting and beautiful. The main stripe is usually ornamented with well-defined designs of small flowers and leaves, arranged with a square effect. The other borders are generally floral, while the zigzag water motif encloses the field. The apex of the mihrab or niche runs high in the Ghiordes rug. A silk fringe often finishes the top. One collector in Constantinople has many very fine and rare specimens. He began to collect Ghiordes rugs years ago, before the value of the rug became generally known. The modern rugs are very coarse, and have no resemblance to the old ones.

Hereke rugs receive their name from the village about forty miles from Constantinople, on the Gulf of Ismid, where the Sultan has established the imperial factories and a school of art. About four hundred young women, mostly Greeks, are here actively employed in weaving rugs in silk and wool. His Imperial Majesty is anxious to give employment to the village girls, and takes much interest in this industry, which was started about fifteen years ago. The rugs are reproductions, for the most part, of famous antiques belonging to the Sultan. In 1898 Emperor William of Germany visited this factory. After his return home the Sultan sent him a large number of Hereke rugs. In 1902, during one of my sojourns in Berlin, I was permitted by the courtesy extended to me by the court official in charge of these rugs to see the entire collection arranged in one section of the Palace. Beside the magnificent antique Persian rugs belonging to the Imperial House of Germany these modern Turkish rugs were startling in color ; but the texture was fine, and time will, of course, subdue the glowing colors, which are now often softened in the Western markets by a washing process known to certain firms. Old mohair rugs are also being reproduced at the Hereke factory with good results. Great attention is paid in all these rugs to exactness of detail in reproduction.

Kara-Geuz rugs are mostly of the runner order, with mixed designs and fugitive colors.

Karaman has a considerable trade with Smyrna. Its rugs are coarse, loosely woven, and not at all attractive.

Kir-Shehr rugs are made in the province of Angora. Because of their durability and thickness they are both useful and desirable. Their colorings are rather strong, but fine ; green is the most usual color, although 'red and blue are frequent. The designs are mostly of Arabic origin, and quite highly decorative.

Konieh rugs are of great weight and resemble Ouchaks. They usually have a plain centre, and when there are panels these are also of one shade. Being firm and strong they are very durable.

Kulah prayer rugs of ancient make are most interesting and valuable. They are about the size of the old Ghiordes prayer rug, and have other points in common, which might be expected from the proximity of the towns. The Kulah rug, however, instead of the solid centre of its neighbor, is apt to have its field ornamented with small floral designs. The colors most prominent are a yellowish-brown, a blue, or a soft red. Green and white are seen at times. There are many narrow stripes as borders, often alternating in dark and light colors, and these are beautifully ornamented with floral effects in minute designs. The niche of the prayer rug is of medium height, often with serrated sides.

Kurdistan (the Turkish portion) rugs are woven by the women in odd moments, and one of the ways a girl gains distinction among her associates is by the skill she displays in rug-weaving. As the wool is taken from the flocks that are kept near home, and is spun and dyed there, and as the time consumed in the weaving is not counted, each rug is considered clear gain. In fact, the Kurdish women do not make their rugs entirely for the market, but for their own entertainment and use.

Kurdish rugs are very durable, and they are much prized in Turkey; but they do not sell readily in America because of the lack of that harmony of color which our taste demands. Their coloring is often too bright and varied to attract us. An Armenian clergyman said to me recently : I find Americans more devoted to harmony than to anything else. I have in my house one of the finest of Kurdish rugs, but I could never sell it in this country, should I wish.. An American looks at it and says, 'What hideous colors ! ' and I doubt if I could even give it away, although it would be considered a superior rug in Turkey."

Kutahia sends out Anatolian rugs of goat's hair and wool. Some improvement has been noticed in the rugs recently.

Ladik prayer rugs were made in the ancient city of Laodicea. They are among the finest rugs of old workmanship. The field is of a solid color, often a rich wine-red. The niche is serrated on the inside to the apex, which is enclosed by straight lines. On the outside of the niche one often sees the hook design, extending into the upper field, which in its turn is frequently ornamented with lancet-shaped leaves and floral forms. The Rhodian lily sometimes plays a part in the border design. White, red, blue, a light tan, and green, with an occasional touch of violet, are used.

The webbing is red, and extends about an inch and a half, when a narrow fringe finishes the ends.

Meles (Melhaz) rugs of modern make are of coarse texture, and brilliant in fugitive dyes of red, yellow, blue, and green. They find a market at Milassa. The modern prayer rug does not compare favorably in any way with the antique. The texture of the ancient rug is thin, but with a wealth of coloring and blending of hues, as beautiful as rare. Sometimes, too, the Ghiordes panel is seen above the niche. A good deal of black was used in the old rugs, but, as is usual in antiques, it has gradually disappeared with age. Violet, too, is a color that was sometimes used with great effect in old rugs.

Mohair rugs are made of the soft, silky hair of the Angora goat ; but though beautiful, they are not durable, as experiments tried at Akhissar and Kulah have shown.

Mosul rugs are strong and rich. in colorings of blue, yellow, green, and red.. The designs are rather striking, and with their silky softness these rugs are generally desirable. The best are made of camel's hair, including the outer border, but occasionally they are made partly of goat's hair. They are now made in several Turkish provinces, and are often wrongly called Persian rugs.

At Ouchak, with its large population, there are steadily at work about two thousand looms, giving employment to fully four thousand weavers, and as many as one hundred and fifty dyers. Ouchak is the principal city of Asiatic Turkey for the dyeing of the wool of which the rugs are woven, and that industry is carried on in many factories. Ouchak rugs have a thick pile ; and though green is forbidden by Mohammedan law, the modern rugs frequently have green for their dominant color. The reason for this innovation is that the influence of their religious faith has waned, and consequently the law regarding that color is not now strictly enforced. The weavers of these rugs are mostly Moslem women and girls. The wool is generally bought in the interior from nomad tribes, and the weaving is carried on in private houses in a manner similar to that of other rugs, except that the yarn is spun more loosely. In the early history of rug-weaving these rugs were known in the Western market as the rapraks, and the colors were, almost invariably, red with either green or blue. Until recently, even the best Ouchak rugs were apt to have inferior wool for their foundation, and hemp was frequently employed. The wool was loosely woven, and the dyes were fugitive. There are now, however, certain provinces in Turkey, including Ouchak, where the products are controlled by European and American firms, and where excellent wool and natural dyes are used. The rugs made under such control are very durable and in every way satisfactory. In size Ouchaks vary greatly, ranging from a few feet to fifty by twenty-five feet.

Sivas rugs are always woven of wool, and almost every hamlet carries on the industry of weaving in the homes. There are no factories, the young girls and women doing the work here, as in other parts of Turkey. Sivas rugs are in most cases small, measuring about eight by four feet; but lately larger and more attractive rugs are being made. Even the poorest families have fine rugs, and regard them as valuable property, to be sold only under the pressure of great extremity. The weavers are so frugal in their manner of living that their daily earning of fourteen to nineteen cents is sufficient to supply their wants.

Smyrna, next to Constantinople, is the most important commercial centre in the East. It is the open door to mysterious Asia, and within its boundaries are found representatives of every race and religious belief of that little-known continent, the land of mystics, nomads, and fanatics. It is a mistake to imagine that the so-called Smyrna rugs are made in that city. As a matter of fact, no rugs are manufactured there. It is the export depot for goods from the interior, and dealers have allowed the name to be used merely for convenience, for commercial purposes. A student of rugs can readily understand that throughout the vast territory which concentrates its commerce in Smyrna there are a score or more of valuable manufactures which could never be known under one descriptive name.

Sparta rugs are made in a village bearing that name situated in the interior not far from Smyrna. They are very heavy, firm, and in different colors. Some of those recently made are especially fine. Attention is being paid to harmonious coloring as well as to quality and texture. A splendid specimen is in the home of the leading merchant of Smyrna. It is in the softest shades of rose and blue, with a lustrous sheen. The texture is as fine as velvet, and the medallion in the centre is most grace-fully designed. Many rugs are sold under the name of Cassaba, which are really woven at Sparta.

Taprak (see Ouchak) rugs.

Turuk rugs are so called from a band of nomads who dwell among the mountains of Anatolia. They have large flocks of sheep, and weave rugs of strong, hardy texture. The colors are very good, the field often of brown, ornamented with large, bold designs.

( Originally Published Late 1900's )


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