For many people, Persian carpets with floral patterns and scrolling vines represent the classical Oriental rug. From the 15th century onward, Turkish rugs found a growing number of collectors among the wealthy merchant classes of Europe. Identified and evaluated according to where, how and by whom it was made, a Turkish rug, like all other Oriental rugs, is either of city, village or nomadic origin. Other commercial products, such as elaborate, floral-patterned silk rugs made near Istanbul in Hereke and inspired by Persian and Ottoman court carpets, also satisfied the Western taste for Turkish rugs at that time and are still being made today.
But most prized by today’s collectors are the rustic rugs woven for centuries by women in villages throughout Turkey. These constitute the majority of collectible Turkish carpets. Some 19th-century village rugs, however, were also made for the marketplace. Rugs remain an important source of family income in these agricultural communities.
Nomads, although dwindling in numbers, also continue to weave rugs, executed mostly in primary colors and reflecting the graphic motifs of their Central Asian-Turkish heritage. Compared to other types of Oriental rugs, Turkish village rugs are distinguished by their vivid and unusual color combinations and lively 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 Turkish people themselves.
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