About Handmade Rugs

Turkish Carpet Craftmanship

Turkish Carpet Craftmanship

The weaving was traditionally carried out by the women and girls of the family when they were not busy with other tasks. Thus it mainly took place in late summer, when the ewes give little milk, or in the winter, before lambing time. The wool used for weaving the rugs, called yapag, was the winter wool, which is shorn in the spring.

The dyeing of the wool – a women’s task – was carried out in the fall. Until the 19th century, only natural dyes were used, derived from plants, animals, and minerals. Most of the plants that were used for making dyes were gathered in the fields; others were purchased at the local bazaars. Red dye was produced from madder root and cochineal, yellow from Daphne, euphorbium, buckthorn, dyer’s sumach, and daisy, and brown and black from galls and nut husks. Blue dye was made from indigo imported from India. The wool was boiled together with the desired plant dyes and various mordants. Today, most of the weavers use chemical dyes, which are cheaper and more convenient

Warps are the parallel strings stretched from loom beam to loom beam upon which rows of knots are tied. Most weavers use cotton for warp material if it is available because it is easier to weave a flat, straight rug on cotton warps than on wool warps (wool yarn is more elastic than cotton string, and is more affected by changes in humidity). Weavers who are semi-nomadic pastoralists (i.e. not farmers) are much more likely to use wool than cotton for warp and weft.

Wefts run across the width of the rug, over and under the warp strings and between rows of knots. Most often wefts are made of cotton, wool, or silk. Wefts help hold rows of knots in place and strengthen the structure of the rug.

Knots are tied by looping the yarn around pairs of warps and cutting off the standing end. The ends of the “knot” become the pile or nap of the rug.

bindings are made by wrapping several warps at the edge of the rug with yarn to reinforce this part of the rug.
End finishes hold knots and wefts from working off the rug’s warp strings. Many rug types have a flat-woven kilim selvage at both ends.

Fringes are formed by gathering and knotting together bundles of warp strings at both ends of the rug after the rug has been cut from the loom. The knots in these bundles of warp strings keep pile knots and end finishes tight at the rug’s ends.

The Parts of a Rug Design …
The field is the background of the rug inside the borders. The main border is the widest decorative design around the outside of the rug; guard borders are the narrow decorative designs flanking the main border.

The medallion is the round, oval, or polygonal design element that sometimes occupies the center of the field. Corner brackets or spandrels are designs which sometimes fill the corners of the field.

The Parts of a Rug Loom…
Most weavers work on fixed, vertical looms (although some semi-nomadic weavers in areas of Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iran still use the more portable horizontal ground loom). A simple vertical loom is little more than a sturdy frame, usually made of wooden timbers, designed to hold taut the warp strings upon which the weaver ties rows of knots. A heddle is used to separate alternate warps so that the shuttle carrying the weft string can be passed between warps from one side of the rug to the other. More sophisticated vertical looms have their upper and lower beams constructed as rollers. A roller loom lets the weaver roll the completed part of a rug under and to the back of the loom, allowing the construction of a longer carpet on a loom of the same vertical size.

Weavers’ Tools…
Most weavers work with a hooked knife, or gollab in one hand (top tool in photo). A weaver uses a finger to push the yarn through the warps, then uses the hook on the knife to catch the yarn behind the warps and pull it to the face of the rug. After the knot is tied the weaver cuts the yarn with a flick of the blade. After several rows of knots are tied across the width of the loom, the weaver uses a comb or beater (middle tool in photo) made of metal or wood to beat down the warps and rows of knots to consolidate the weave. After a strip of pile an inch or so wide is woven across the width of the loom, the weaver uses scissors to clip the nap back to nearly its final heigth. The scissors have handles bent so that the blades can cut flush with the face of the rug. Like the knife and comb, the scissors are made by the blacksmith down the street in the village: when they get dull, a boy runs them back for sharpening.

the origin of carpets

The Origin of Carpets

The Origin of Carpets
Though the question of the origin of the carpets is still under dispute, the hypothesis is that they were first produced in the region extending from the Caucasus, western Turkestan, and central Asia to Mongolia and China – an area referred to by scholars as the “carpet belt.” Since the nomadic tribes of these regions subsisted on the cultivation of herds, they did not slaughter their animals for their skins; instead, they wove their wool into carpets that were spread over the tent floors, in place of natural furs.

We do not know when the first rugs were woven. The earliest evidence is a carpet from the 5th century BCE, which was discovered in the tomb of a Scythian prince in the vicinity of Pazyrik in southern Siberia; it is on exhibit today at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

The art of carpet weaving plays an important role in Islamic culture, and its tradition dates back farther than any other Islamic art form. Even today, carpets are the most sought-after type of art object in Turkey. Unlike westerners, who regard rugs as something exotic, rich in color and design, Muslims view the carpet as a costly, yet functional, item meant to cover the floor on which they kneel in prayer.



Cleanliness is the first and major step towards the preservation of a handmade carpet and it is the best defense against damage. There are no hard fast rules to stipulate when and how often to clean a carpet since every handmade carpet is different and every household exposes a carpet to different amounts of wear and dirt. There are many professional cleaning.However, the following advice and information are the basic general instruction that the average homeowner may exercise in the care and cleaning of Oriental carpets. The best recommendation is regular brushing with an old-fashioned hand room with natural bristles or the use of an electric carpet sweeper. Remember that is just an important to brush the underlay of the carpet and the floor beneath. One caution, the regular use of vacuum cleaner will eventually start to loosen the knots and pull the fibers out of the pile also never use the revolving brush attachment on a carpet for it will actually pull the fibers apart. The nozzle attachment is the best and may be used once a month.

An old-fashioned carpet beater used every few weeks or alternatively a good shaking outdoors is invaluable for removing the harmful dust and grit that becomes lodged in the carpet. Always beat the back of the carpet to allow the dirt to fall out from both the back and front of the carpet.Never beat a handmade carpet violently and never beat antique or silk carpets.

Washing or Cleaning
How often one needs to clean a carpet, depends on the amount of traffic and the type of carpet such cleaning may vary from every six months to once every two years. A carpet with a light colored ground may be sent out to be cleaned more often, but it may be less obvious if the carpet is dark and intricately patterned. The first indication that a carpet needs cleaning will be from the feel of the pile, which may feel coarse or harsh to the touch instead of velvety and smooth as it should be. Another useful test is to fold up one corner and tap the back of the carpet over the palm of the hand. If a fine powder of dust, grit and lose fibers falls into your hand it is certainly the time to clean the carpet.

Ali Babas Carpet drying area 1992

Hand Cleaning at Home
You may be daunted by the idea of cleaning your carpet home. It is a time-consuming process requiring care and patience but it is actually a simple job which can be successfully carried out by any carpet owner who follows these simple instructions. Hand cleaning has multiple rewards, apart from the obvious benefit of saving money. It will give personal satisfaction to see every fiber fresh and revived. It will also give the owner a closer affinity to and understand of the carpet. Every previously unnoticed subtlety of color and motif will come into view with the close attention that hand cleaning requires.
Nearly all types of carpets can be cleaned at home with the exception of antique carpets is in need of repair, silk carpets, and noncolorfast carpet. These should receive the attention of a professional.

Preparation is as important as the washing process itself. Test the carpet for colorfastness by rubbing a brightly colored area gently with a damp white cloth. Then examine the carpet carefully to make sure it is not in need of repair. Since the carpet becomes more fragile when it is wet. It is advisable to carry out most repairs before washing. The only repelling is better done after washing since the color can be matched more accurately. After the carpet is clean brush and beat the carpet thoroughly to remove so much loose dust as possible because dust and dirt are more damaging when wet than dry. Finally, find a flat clean hard surface on which to clean the carpet. For small carpets, it is better to clean them on the large table.

Most of the necessary equipment can be found already at home.A soft brush with natural bristles about one inch long (The type used grooming horses is ideal), white natural vinegar, carpet shampoo. The type which dries to a fine powder and a bucket of warm water is all that is needed.
Prepare a mixture of the following proportions, half a cup of carpet shampoo to the poor and a half cups of warm and add one tablespoon of vinegar to prevent color from running…

Lay the carpet on the site upon a hard flat surface. Dip the brush in the liquid and apply it in gentle even vertical strokes. Vigorous brushing or scrubbing will not clean thoroughly and is likely to damage the carpet in its wet vulnerable state. Start in a corner, brushing up and down with and against the pile with even overlapping movements. The amount of shampoo applied and the pressure of the brush should be as constant as possible over the entire carpet surface. Once the carpet is brushed vertically (lengthwise ) then brush horizontally or from the side of side across the pile with the same gentle overlapping strokes. The pile should be thoroughly cleaned by now Finally brush gently in the direction of the pile as the carpet dries so that the pile is lying in the right direction.

Try to apply the cleaning solution sparingly, so that the base does not become wet. It is very difficult to dry it thoroughly since it is firmly encased in the million of tight little knots. If the carpet is returned to the floor while the months the base will be extremely brittle. During the entire cleaning process handle the carpet as carefully as possible, since while is wet, it is extremely fragile, so it is extremely fragile, so it is very easy to cause damage.

Small light carpets, can be pegged by the kilim end on a clothesline. Larg carpets are more easily dried flat on a hard, clean surface. Paving stones or concrete are ideal.Do not dry on a lawn since the base will absorb the moisture of the grass.If it is impossible to use such an area or the weather does not permit outdoor drying, then an area of the house can be prepared. Preferably use a room where there is a warm air current heating system.Do not drape the carpet, it must be allowed to dry falt and don’t walk or place anything on it until it is completely dry. The warp weft and pile of a completely dried carpet should feel soft and pliable. Remove the dried dirt and shampoo powder by gently brushing with a soft dry brush, or by gently using the vacuum cleaner. An alternative method used in Scandinavia and Turkey is to place the carpet pile downward on virgin snow and pat the back gently all over. This patting should be just firm enough to press the pile to the snow. But quickly and gently so it won’t make the carpet too damp. As the carpet is lifted away, all the dust and grime is left imprinted in the snow. This method is only suitable for small carpets since it may be inconvenient and difficult to dry large one during the winter.

Things To Avoid
Washing machines and dryers should never be used any delicate handmade item. With carpets, the vibration, water temperature, and harsh detergents will cause irreparable damage, possible color run from the hot water and harsh detergents and a cementlike wool once dry. It may even reduce the carpet to shreds. Many films and books show scenes of Eastern weavers washing their carpets in streams and rivers. This has led many owners to wrongly believe that a complete soaking is good. This process is only used for fairly new carpets.They are washed very quickly then laid out to dry immediately in the baking sun Antique and silk carpets are never washed in this way. In fact, usually, this river washing is used only as the first washing before the carpet is put into use or sold mainly o remove the millions or may wool fibers that become embedded in the pile after shopping and the loose excess dyestuff

This total immersion is not advisable. It can cause color run and it soaks the warp and weft threads unnecessarily. The warp and wolf do not need such a cleaning since they are totally enclosed by the knots of the pile and so are not exposed to dirt. Some firms that advertise themselves as expert carpet cleaners use electric rotary brushes. These machines were designed for use on machine-made carpets and could only be will twist and break the delicate wool fibers of an oriental handmade masterpiece should never be subjected to the wrong chemicals that these firms use. The damage may become apparent only after several months and the damage is irreparable….

Dealing With Spills And Stains
Water and dampness are the greatest danger to an Oriental carpet. Water spillage is perhaps is the most common accident at home. When this occurs, appropriate steps should be immediately taken.Using an undyed piece of cloth try to absorb as much of the spilled water as possible. Place some material underneath the carpet and gently blot the pile.Do not try to wring it.

A hair dryer set a moderate heat is probably the best implement for drying. Dry the carpets thoroughly from both sides. Place some material underneath the carpet and gently tease it back in to shape with the gingers. Failure to carry set a moderate heat is probably the best implement for drying. Dry the carpet thoroughly from both sides. The pile may be a little malted when dry. Gently tease it back in to shape with the gingers. Failure to carry out the above steps as-as quickly as possible result in two problems color run and the rotting of the warp and weft. Should these problems occur it is best to seek the help of shape of an expert restorer. In a busy household, a variety of substances may be accidentally spilled on a rug. Excluding the treatment, for silk or antique carpets, most of these accidents can be tackled at home. The first step with any substance is the same as with water. Soak up as much liquid as possible with a clean undyed cloth. This simple absorption method when carried out as quickly as possible is the greatest contribution to stain prevention. The longer as a spill remains the more difficult it is clean and the greater the danger of a permanent stain. The next page is to make a colorfastness test. Rub a colorfully patterned area with a damp white cloth. If the cloth takes the color of the carpet then an expert should be asked to tackle the problem it the carpet is colorfast then the stain can be removed at home with a variety of common household items. In dealing with every type of stain, work the from the top of the stain downwards never from the middle outwards as this may remember that gentle repetition is more effective than harsh scrubbing.

Washing and care of the carpet
A dirty or stained carpet should be washed with soft soap, without delay, rinsed with clean water and dried. A Turkish carpet is made to last and, therefore, requires certain care. The worst enemy of a carpet is damp. Therefore, it should not be left in a damp environment over a longs period. There is no harm in washing and immediately drying a carpet. However, it should not be laid on the floor before it is well dry, and it should never be kept damp on the floor.

Carpet naturally collects dust when laid on the floor a long time.Therefore, it should frequently be vacuum cleaned.In spite of this, when laid on the floor over a long time, dust may collect at the bottom of its knots and the carpet should be laid on the floor face down for several days in each year, walking on it frequently to get rid of the accumulated dust. This action causes the dust accumulated at the bottom of the knots to fall off. Later the carpet should be laid face up again and vacuum cleaned. Nomads use a more practical method. They lay the carpet face down on snow and cover it with a layer of snow.During this process, the melting snow removes the accumulated dust like a filter and polishes the carpet. Fading colors may be shined with vinegar: Adding a glass of vinegar into a bucket of water, the pile of carpets is wiped with a sponge in the direction of the weave, and the carpets are left to dry.As a result, the carpet regains its shine. As removing stains may not always be easy, carpet needs good care. A Specialist should be consulted for stubborn stains. The following points should be remembered for good carpet care: During cleaning refrain from rubbing the carpet knots in the reverse direction. Take care not to wet the whole carpet. Never use any chemicals, including ammonia, to clean silk carpets.

Some hits to remove stains
Any alcoholic drink: Lightly wet with warm water and use 90 % alcohol to clean.

Mud: Dry well and vacuum cleaners.

Sweets: Lightly wipe with warm water

Ink: Damp sponge with a mixture of water, soap, and alcohol, and wipe.Take care to prevent the cleaning mixture from dripping down to the reverse of the carpet.

Fruit: Damp sponge with a mixture containing 3 parts white vinegar or lemon juice and 1 part ammonia, and wipe.

Egg: Never use hot water. Wipe with an ammonia and water mixture, failing that, use an alcohol and water mixture.

Blood: Never use hot water. After cleaning the stain well with a damp sponge, If the stain is dry, brush it and clean with water. If unsuccessful, wipe again with pure white wine. If the stain is dry, brush it and clean with water containing a small amount of ammonia.

Make-up materials or perfume: Wipe with alcohol.

Pet urine: Wipe with a sponge while the stain is damp, and leave to dry. Later wipe with white wine vinegar. If unsuccessful, wipe again with a mixture of 3 parts alcohol and 1 part ammonia.

Red wine: Clean with white wine, and wipe with water.