Turkish carpets (kilim): what is it and how to buy the perfect rug

Turkish carpets in Istanbul

Most of the tourist who visited Turkey heard about famous turkish rugs — kilim. What is it?Kilim is a flat-woven rug (carpet) which can be used as part of home accessories, used as a floor or sofa covering.

Kilim has an old history and rugs of every region, where they were made, have an unique ornament and motif.

Turkish carpets — kilims — it’s a handmade original rug with their own pattern and design, made, most of the time, by women.

Let’s take a look at the history and styles of turkish rugs with IstanbulPoints.com

What is a Turkish Kilim?Turkish carpets in Istanbul

A stunning piece of artwork that represents the rich cultural heritage of Turkey, it is basically carpets produced by one of many flatweaving techniques. The major difference between a kilim area rug and a traditional carpet is that the design on the latter is made using individual short strands of different colors knotted onto the warps and held together by pressing the wefts tightly, while the designs on the former are created by interweaving the variously colored wefts and warps (flatweave).

Turkish kilims are woven using the slitweave technique. The slit is the gap left between two blocks of color. It is created by returning the weft around the last warp in a color area, and the weft of the adjacent color is later returned around the adjacent warp

The History of Turkish Rugs

Did you know that women have been weaving kilims over 8000 years ago in Anatolia?They were using a special equipment — «ıstar», which was used in vertical or inclined position. Kilim was then used as functional items for every day use such as floor coverings, cushions, storage bags, tent decorations, saddlebags and so on. Since it was extremely lightweight and easy to maintain, it became popular among nomadic tribes.

Between the 12th and 19th centuries, women started using kilims as a form of art and expression. All their sorrows, joys, dreams etc, took shape in the form of colors, patterns, and motifs. Using high quality materials like wool and silk, tales and stories about the daily life of that period were illustrated on the kilims. Till date, these Turkish carpets are handmade (as they were back then) with exquisite craftsmanship.

Types of Carpets and Kilims in Turkey

Some of the popular regions where Turkisn kilims are manufactured in Turkey are:


Turkish carpets

Anatolian rugs

The concept of kilim originated from here, so practically every city, town, and village is a weaving center. The Turkish or Gördes Knot is used in all carpets described as Anatolian.

Bergama (Pergamon ancient city, which you can visit today)

Turkish Bergama rug

Bergama rug

One of the most famous ancient carpet weaving centers, Bergama has much to offer. Black, red, green, blue, yellow and pink are dominant colors in Bergama carpets.

Çanakkale (Troya ancient city)

Flatweaving is the commonly used technique here, and carpets are produced in traditional dimensions. Green, red, blue and yellow are the main colors.

Hakkari (Hakkariye)

Turkish rugs Hakkari rug

Hakkari carpet

The kilims here are well-known for there peculiar designs and motifs, which are quite striking. Made of madder and wool, they have 30 main motifs, with primary colors like red or burgundy, dark blue, brown, black and white being used.

Van (Tushpa in the 9th century BC)

Turkish carpets Van carpets

Van carpets

They feature mostly dark colors like red, black, dark blue and natural white, along with Van white (yellowish white). They are distinguishable due to the shortness of loop stitches, rich colors, eye-catching and varied motifs, single borders, and stylish flora and animal figures alongside geometrical and symmetrical patterns.

Old turkish rugs

Turkish handmade carpets

Turkish handmade carpets

The bright and vibrant flatweave rugs produced here feature roses, leaves and boughs of nature – they reflect the warmth and hospitable spirit of eastern people. Kilims with big flowers show distinct influence by Karabag kilims of Caucasus.

Association of kilims with tradition and folklore

For centuries, Anatolian women have used traditional patterns, dyes and motifs to express their views and tell their story. Kilims became a visual representation of their lives, sacrifices they had to make, struggles faced by them, and so on.

It was meant to be passed on to the next generations. Patterns and motifs have a lot to tell if you can decipher the true meaning behind them. For instance, if the fringe is tied into single knots of two different colors, it indicators the carpet maker is married. On the other hand, double knots in two or more colors mean the weaver had children. Carpet sellers are generally aware of such stories which they are happy to share with you.

Turkish kilims can be fantastic décor items

Turkish handmade carpets

Turkish handmade carpets

If you are looking for a gorgeous and luxurious carpet to add some depth and character to your living room, bedroom, or dining area, a Turkish kilim is your best bet. In case you are willing to stretch your budget, opt for those made with 100% silk threads. The weaving process is intricate and can take anywhere between six months and a couple of years. These carpets are stunning and unique – it is a worthwhile investment for sure. If you prefer a retro vibe in your home, there are vintage fashion pieces available too. Some are worn down, but the usable parts are turned into patchwork carpets, which look great in modern homes as it gives off a fusion aura.

Points to remember before buying kilimsTurkish handmade carpets

  • Don’t forget to check the back side of the carpet. Although kilims are mostly handmade that have visible patterns on both sides, some are woven by machine and come with one-sided designs.
  • The higher the density of the knots per square unit, the better the quality of the carpet, and hence the more you have to shell out.
  • Silk threads used in the carpet are very smooth and lustrous, so carpets woven with pure silk on the weft using horizontal weaving appear to change colors when rotated half a circle. It is an illusion and nothing more, but if you are set on particular colors, check out the piece thoroughly.
  • The thickness of the threads has to be taken into account. Rugs made using one type of material have vertical and horizontal threads of the same thickness;
  • Sometimes there are mysterious symbols and signatures hidden in the pattern among the motifs, like names of towns and villages where the rugs were made or family names of the makers.

The patterns and materials used to make a carpet vary according to the geographical location of the maker. However, Turkish kilims are on the pricier side, so don’t expect it to be light on the pocket. If someone offers you a kilim at a price that seems too good to be true, it is likely that the merchandise is of inferior quality. Always buy from reputable carpet sellers who are willing to provide documentation regarding origins, age, and materials used.

Where to buy turkish carpets in Istanbul? Best places

Recep Karaduman kilim shop

Turkish handmade carpets

Recep Karaduman shop

The owner if this shop, Redgep (Recep) Karaduman, came to carpet business in 1966. The shop is located at Grand Bazaar, and has a great collection of rugs. Most of them are from Anatolian region, and made from natural materials such as pure wool, cotton, goat hair. Here also you can find some pieces from Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Balkans.

Adress: Grand Bazaar Takkeciler Sokak 54, 34126 Istanbul Turkey

SUFi Oriental Rugs

Turkish carpets in Istanbul

SUFi Oriental Rugs

Osman Dağlı, the owner of Sufi rugs shop, was born in Konya, Turkey. For the first time he saw how the carpet was made in his childhood — the rug, which was made by his mother.

When he was at school he started his work life as a restore craftsman at carpets shop.

Today, you can see original and top quality carpets and rugs in his store at Sultanahmet. Don’t expect cheap prices — the pieces here is original and exclusive.

Adress: Binbirdirek Mh. Peykhane Cd. No:43/A 34122 Sultanahmet — Fatih Istanbul
Tel/Fax +90-212-517-4195
Mobil +90-542-317-8148


Turkish carpets in Istanbul


Behind the Nakkaş shop there is a story about two friends. They were born in Istanbul and came to craft business at young age. They opened theis first shop «Galeri Cengiz» in 1989, which was located near Arasta Bazaar. After 15 years of succesful work, in 2004, the shop moved to a new building close to Hippodrome square.

Today you can visit this unique rug shop Nakkaş easily by walking down the street from Constantine obelisk (Walled obelisk or turk. Örme dikilitaş).

There is also an unique old cistern at the basement floor of the shop with exhibition of Hippodrome’s history.

Adress: Nakilbent Sok. No:13 34122 Sultanahmet / Istanbul
Tel : +90 212 516 5222
Fa[ : +90 212 516 5223
e-mail : info@nakkasrug.com

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