In the long history of carpet making, few regions have played such a pivotal role as Anatolia. The cradle of modern day Turkey has served as a meeting point for numerous Asian roving tribes that developed a tradition of creating textiles to cover their tent floors and provide warmth and comfort while they traveled. Over the millennia, these rugs evolved as their makers adopted new styles and patterns, while incorporating the best weaving techniques of the time. The result is a remarkable art form that continues to thrive today.
As a general rule, a vintage turkish rug will be woven of wool, either loomed by hand or machine, that features a range of colors that are typically rooted in the local environment. This allows for a level of authenticity that many designers find appealing. It also means that the rugs are highly durable and can stand up to even heavy foot traffic.
Rugs made in this region were among the first wave of Oriental antique rugs to be introduced into Europe. They were prized commodities and artistically influential as well, incorporated into iconic works by such painters as Memling, Lotto, Bellini and Hans Holbein.
Today, the vintage turkish rug can be found in homes across the world that admire the evocative color palette and design motifs. Some are so finely woven and lustrous that they are considered to be among the finest antique rugs ever made. Others feature motifs that are both more primitive and idiosyncratic, as in the case of the tribal weavings made by nomadic tribes throughout the mountainous eastern portions of the country.
One of the most significant rug weaving centers in Turkey was Oushak. It is credited with overseeing important changes in the weaving of oriental rugs, particularly during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as they began to produce decorative room-sized pieces that were revered for their soft pastel hues and intricately stylized arabesque motifs. These designs often incorporated an asymmetry that was a nod to Safavid Persian motifs that were being adapted by the Turks in a uniquely Turkish style.
Other rug production centers in Turkey, such as Bergama and Hereke, produced a variety of styles that incorporated geometric, figurative and other motifs that varied considerably from one area to the next. However, these tribal weavings incorporated soft and lustrous wool that reflected the weavers’ sheep herding culture and a keen eye for color that is often evident in the finished product. These are often characterized by elemental open designs and the use of rare cochineal dye, which produces a deep rose to burgundy tone that is distinctly reminiscent of this region’s rich natural resources. This coloring makes some of these antique rugs some of the most desirable collector’s items in the market today. They are treasured for their aesthetic appeal and for the artisanal excellence in craftsmanship that can only be attributed to generations of master weavers. vintage turkish rugs