The art of carpet weaving, which has been on for the past 3500 years, is one of the oldest professions in the world. Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian and partly Hellenistic-weaving tended to produce clothes and were concentrated more on embroidery than on carpentry, in contrast with the people of central Asia, who produced carpets and kilims with the aim of protecting themselves from the cold climate.
The art of Turkish carpet weaving first started in central Asia. The oldest known "knotted" carpet (5th BC) was discovered in the Pazyryk valley, about 5000 feet up on the Altai Mountains in Siberia.
Certainly, the people of the Altai Mountains, in the Scythian era, lived a lifestyle that was economically dependant on animal husbandry. With the materials garnered from their cattle, goats, sheep and horses, they made felt to cover the outside of their nomadic dwellings, called yurts. Surely they would have used the same materials to cover their earthen floors, protecting themselves from the cold, harsh conditions of Siberia.
The 6’0” X 6’6” carpet is made with an average knot count of 225 knots per square inch. It is made of a wool pile, knotted around a wool base and displays a skill matching the artistry of contemporary weavers.
As a reflection of their mythology and “animal husbandry” lifestyle, geometrical patterns and animal figures has been clearly seen on the carpet.
Carpets reflect the culture of a people and with their attractive colors and designs convey artistic messages to people of other cultures, thus become a universal means of discourse. When you observe their surface lines and delineate the motifs in their repetitious rhythm, symmetrical harmony, dominance and hierarchy, balance and unity, you will appreciate why carpet weaving is one of the most beautiful artistic activities.
The Turkish carpet weaving underwent changes in designs, but the main characteristics remained intact. In the earlier examples, geometrical forms like stars, squares, hexagons and octagons were dominant; roses or roselike forms and other floral patterns constituted the motifs. (Resim syf. IV)
In the period following the acceptance of Islam, the mihrab (altar), the kandil (candle) and the ibrik (kettle) became dominant figures, especially of the Turkish Seccade, the prayer rug, a small carpet used during prayer. (Resim syf. V)
The Europeans took notice of the Turkish carpets during the First Crusade, 1096-1099. Later on these were brought to Europe by merchants to decorate the palaces, castles, houses of the rich and even the churches. The pure silken carpets, especially, were symbols of displaying wealth. One of the aims of carpet weaving tradition in Anatolia was the preparation of a dowry for the would-be bride. In time trade contacts widened the scope of this activity and it became a source for family income. Today hand-woven carpets occupy a foreground among the export articles of our national economy.