Author: Marie Wakefield
For the majority, Persian carpets with flowery patterns and scrolling vines symbolize the traditional Oriental rug. From the fifteenth century onwards, Turkish rugs established an increasing number of collectors amongst the affluent merchant classes of Europe. Described and appraised according to where, how and by whom it was woven, a Turkish rug, like every other Oriental rug, is either of city, village or nomadic origination. Additional commercial products, such as fancy, floral-patterned silk rugs made near Istanbul in Hereke and inspired by Persian and Ottoman court carpets, also fulfilled the Western taste for Turkish rugs at that time and are still being created today.
But intensely prized by today's collectors are the rural rugs woven for centuries by women in villages throughout Turkey. These form the preponderance of collectible Turkish carpets. Some 19th-century village rugs, nevertheless, were also made for the marketplace. Rugs continue as a notable element of family income in these agrarian communities. Nomads, although dwindling in numbers, also keep weaving rugs, executed mostly in primary colors and mirroring the graphic motifs of their Central Asian-Turkish legacy. Compared to other types of Oriental rugs, Turkish village rugs are remarkable for their vivid and extraordinary color combinations and vivacious geometric designs.
The symbols on a Turkish carpet tell about what ancient people thought was important, what they feared, and what they dreamed. Many symbols on Anatolian carpets are based on myths still believed today.
The most common myth in Turkey is the Evil Eye. It is believed that some people have the power to cause harm or death with just a glance from their Evil Eye. Blue-eyed people are more likely to have an Evil Eye than others. One of the best ways to prevent harm is to reflect the glance back with a symbol of the Evil Eye itself. In weaving, a diamond divided into four is the most common symbol for the eye.
Another common symbol is Hayat Agaci, the tree of life. The tree represents hope for life after death. Every culture in the world has a different tree of life--like the cypress, date, palm, pomegranate, fig, olive, beech, and oak trees.
A young woman who weaves stars into her carpet is showing her happiness. Stars on carpets usually have an even number of points, because it is difficult to weave uneven numbers. A star on a carpet could also mean a hope for fertile fields or hope to have a baby. Archaeologists have discovered mother goddess statues in Anatolia that have a star to represent the womb.
Women in the Anatolian region of Turkey have used mythic symbols for thousands of years to express their dreams and fears. A long time ago, they knitted socks with different symbols to show their feelings for a loved one.
The oldest symbols were created 9000 years ago at Catalhoyuk, an ancient village in Anatolia. Archaeologists have discovered that, since that time, many other cultures moved in and out of the area and used the same symbols. The Anatolia region was like a rest stop for travelers from all over the world. But instead of staying in Anatolia's gigantic stone fortresses (called kervansarays) for weeks, the groups of people stayed for hundreds of years. Eventually , they adopted some of the Anatolian culture and symbols.
There are many symbols. Many of them stand for a young woman's aspirations of marital happiness, others tell of the desire for a successful hunt. Since Anatolia constitutes such a waterless region, waves are a common symbol that attests to the high value of water. If you acknowledge what the Anatolian symbols connote, you know the weaver's aspirations and her civilization's mythos.
You're looking at an artistic creation. One shortly distinguishes that Turkish carpets are more symbols of a culture than lovely floor coverings, and they've survived as long as the Turks themselves.
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