Anatolian Rugs: A Handweaving Tradition
It is a rare thing to see an art form transcend generations, even ages and keep evolving through its lifetime. Many art forms that were century-defying in their time got forgotten, either changing and turning into something different entirely or getting replaced with a new form.
Anatolian rug weaving is one of those art forms that survived through the ages, came to the brink of being forgotten, and reinvented itself, adapting to the conditions of the current age. Being the pride and joy of many historical figureheads in the past and still decorating our homes to this very day, Anatolian rugs truly have a special place in the history of craftsmanship.
Origins of Anatolian Rugs
It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment where the Anatolian rug weaving tradition began. No matter how durable a rug might be, they are still quite perishable compared to some of the other household items and artworks that were made using clay, stone, or different metals.
Turkish tribes already had a tradition of rug and kilim weaving long before they set foot in the Anatolian peninsula. But after settling in Asia Minor permanently, the Turkish rug weaving tradition experienced a renaissance. Being a place where people of many nations passed through, met each other, and traded made Anatolia a cultural hub of sorts.
Many aspects of foreign rug weaving traditions got interwoven together in Anatolia, and handcrafted rugs that were made by Anatolian artisans gradually became more elaborate as different motifs, colors, and shapes started getting introduced to the Turkish artisans. Anatolian rug weavers set the gold standard in quality, talent, and craftsmanship, and became exceptionally influential in rug weaving, giving a very popular knot their name.
An Anatolian Tradition
Beyond the Anatolian rug's historical and material value, it has a cultural significance that people often look over. Anatolian rug weaving is a heritage of artisanship. Each handwoven piece displays the generational accumulation of talent and craftsmanship that is specific to the region they were made in.
Artists from all over Anatolia, take locally sourced raw materials and shape them into something beautiful. Rug weaving can be seen as rearranging nature in a way that aesthetically pleases us and it is that collaboration with nature that makes every one of these handwoven rugs so special.
In traditional Anatolian rug weaving, every material is sourced through responsible means. No synthetic substances are used in the making of these rugs, and you can follow the supply chain of these materials to the same place where this art form flourished.
The wool is obtained from local animals, especially sheep, and turned into yarn. That same yarn is traditionally dyed through natural means like the mixes of certain herbs and vegetables to give them their unique colors. These yarns are carefully and masterfully woven into a loom using the Ghiordes knot to create the perfect rug.
See a modern interpretation of these traditional methods in our work.
Keeping a Heritage Alive
With the invention of faster, cheaper manufacturing methods, many handcrafting methods experienced a decline in relevance. People had the opportunity to buy more, for more reasonable prices, and historically speaking, they usually took that deal. This unfortunately caused the decline of the art form as the interest in handwoven rugs became an art form that was only for a niche audience.
But that trend is changing thanks to the changes in the shopping habits of some of the more mindful consumers. Sustainability is becoming more of a hot-button issue each day and people are starting to think more about the effects they have on our planet. Slow fashion trends are becoming more prevalent and as people start to buy less, they are seeing the value of quality.
For more on sustainability, read: A More Sustainable Life With Handcrafted Furnishing
There are definitely easier ways of making a rug. But still to this day, different cities and regions take pride in their heritage as they are keeping a tradition alive. We at Handan Loomworks feel the same pride for our work and contributing to help a tradition reblossom. We are showing the same care for our art as our predecessors did years ago, adhering to the same principles, and are happy that there are still enthusiasts who appreciate the work we do.