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Turkish Kilims

What is a kilim and how is it different to a carpet?

Kilims are flat, tapestry-woven rugs which are commonly made from the Balkans to Pakistan. While carpets are made from knotting wool or other materials, kilims are made from weaving materials through a base ‘warp’.

Kilims are all fabulously unique and are the product of the creativity and imagination of the weaver. While they aren’t as durable as a knotted carpet, kilims often have more motifs and patterning than carpets, and are quite often of a geometric style.

While carpets traditionally were make to be traded, as well as to be used at home, kilims, more often than not, were woven almost solely for domestic purposes. Because of this, there were less commercial pressures to produce different designs, and they’re therefore a reflection of traditional village life in Turkey.

Three years ago, I met two Kilim enthusiasts, who have taught me a lot about the motifs, materials and traditions surrounding the art of kilim weaving. Christie and Okan Oz are a delightful couple who now live in Daylesford, Victoria after recently relocating from the historical town of Pamukkale in Turkey.

I met them on their honeymoon in the south of Turkey, and we got along like a house on fire! Okan was born and bred in Pamukkale in Turkey, where kilims and carpets have been part of his family for generations, both weaving them and selling them, oh, and collecting them!

Christie grew up in Bendigo, Victoria and after meeting Okan, quickly fell in love with the art of kilims and carpets.

The couple have recently followed in their family’s tradition of collecting carpets and kilims and educating the world about this art form, by opening a store in Daylesford, called Nomadic Son.

What a shop! For all of you living in Victoria, Nomadic Son is well worth the Sunday drive. Why not make a day of it and enjoy the beautiful produce, cafes and hot springs in the area as well as this gorgeous destination shop. For those who live too far away, don’t despair, they have an amazing online store and blog!

Walking in to this store is like walking into a Turkish home, you’ll be offered traditional apple tea and immediately feel comfortable perusing all the nooks and crannies of their store. As well as kilims, the pair source hand-made ceramics, pashminas, hamam towels and much more, directly from Turkey. They choose their collection themselves, so I’m always confident that their products are good quality.

What strikes me about Christie and Okan is their passion and their knowledge of their products. They have their own private collection of books about kilims dotted around the store, and love to educate visitors about the motifs and designs of the kilims. Unlike a lot of other carpet stores, you won’t feel the pressure to buy.

Christie also has a fabulous blog which she uses as a forum to educate people (me! me!) about Turkish products. A few months ago she wrote an amazing post about Kilim motifs and what they mean. In particular, I loved the following motifs:

Earring: Desire to marry.  Earrings and other gold items were and still are a common and desirable wedding gift.

Hair band: Desire to marry.  Hair bands form an important ornamental decoration during the wedding ceremony.

Here is an example of both of these ‘Earring’ & ‘hair band’ motifs on ends of Old Fethiye Runner

Scorpion: Protection.  It is not unique to Anatolian tribes to use the object’s image that will provide protection from it.

An elongated ‘scorpion’ motif on an antique Balikesir kilim.

If you, like me, have an interest in all things Turkish, or appreciate art and culture, I strongly recommend you visit Nomadic Son in Daylesford and meet the lovely Okan and Christie. I also really recommend you follow their blog here: Nomadic Son blog