Weaving, in Anatolia,many sources tell us, was introduced in many forms, and evolved by the Turks.Gradually assimilating the forms of ancient Anatolian settled cultures,the traditional arts of weaving sustained here in the hands of the Anatolian women.
According to the available sources,the origin and development of carpet and kilim type weaves are related to the Turks.Although such weaves,which are textile products,originated to provide shelter and protection necessitated by the nomadic way of life, they later became the products of the settled life also; and acquired merely decorative functions.
The ancient Turks,horsemen-wanderers like the Goths would go up to the highlands during the summer to find fresh pastures for their animals and return to their winter dwellings at sea-level during the winter.Theirs was a culture adapted to this particular lifestyle.The Turks also established villages and urban centres in the regions they occupied throughout history.The best examples would be the Uyghurs,The Seljuks and the Ottomans.And yet there still exists a body of nomadic Yoruks with an economy based on animal-husbandry,who wander with their herds from summer and winter pastures.The nomadic lifestyle forced herders such as they to find food,shelter and clothing by the most convenient means, that is , from the animals they possessed.Hence such foods as milk,cheese,butter and yoghurt formed the basis of their diet;and still maintain an important place in Turkish gastronomy, and most clothing is made of wool.
The semi-nomadic Turks had to carry all their possessions with them, even their ' homes' .The Yoruk dwelling is, of course, a tent made of wool or animal hair,rather than a wooden house; the tent being as flexible as woolen fabric,and harmony with the nomad's movements.Only with a light, packable home could the climb to the highlands be made,could the greater part of the year be spent on the plateau and return journey be made to the low valleys at the onset of winter.
Felt, made by compressing raw wool after it has been wetted is as important to the nomadic Turks as their woven fabrics.The earliest examples of Turkish tent are the ' Topak Ev ' made of felt, which can now be seen only in a very few parts of Anatolia.The ' Karaçadır ' (black tent) woven on looms called ' Culhalık ' was adopted by the Yoruks in later periods.
The wandering Yoruk kept all his belongings,such as his bed ,clothing and food,which he carried with him,in sacks,also made of woven fabric.This would suggest that weaving, with wool as its raw material,was the discovery,essentially, of a semi-nomadic culture. However, this does not mean that settled people were unfamiliar with weaving, whether as part of an urban or rural community.On the contrary, by gradually settling after the transition from the nomadic existance, communities refined and developed textile weaving into an art.
Unfortunately,since Turkish fabrics are now considered important ethnographical material,when we study the history of Turkish weaves, we cannot now find old samples of such weaves as the Kilim, Cicim, Sili and Sumak as up to now they have been given little value and consequently little preserved.However,it is known that the Kilim weaving technique emerged before that of the knotted rug.The pile rug is more than 2000 years old,nevertheless.It is, however,impossible to trace all the phases of its development throughout human history step by step,since textiles are fragile and few can survive long periods.
The earliest known carpet in the world is the ' Pazyryk ' carpet.It was discovered ,by the Soviet archeologist Rudenko, in the tomb of a Hun prince at Pazyryk in the Altai mountains.Archeologists and art historians agree that the tomb is dated from the 3rd-2nd Century B.C.Fortunately,the tomb was flooded at some time,and the water froze to protect the contents under a layer of ice to the present day.when we compare the animal motifs of rugs of the 14th Century with those on that carpet,we realise how important a discovery that carpet was for the history of Turkish pile rugs.The reindeer, griffon and mounted figures on the border, and the ' gül ' - rose motif in the centre field of the Pazyryk rug can be compared with Anatolian motifs of a much later date.The knots of the Pazyryk rug are also significantly,of the Gordes,or Turkish type.After the Pazyryk discovery,the earliest kknown pile rugs are dated from the 3rd and 6th Centuries A.D. and were found in Eastern Turkistan.A brief idea about early Turkish carpets can be gained from the piece found by Albert Von Le Coq in Kızıl near Khocha,dated to the 5th or 6th Centuries A.D.There is no further early material existance except the Seljuk carpets of the 13th Century A.D.
Certainly,the Anatolian Seljuks were far advanced in carpet weaving before producing the rugs now among the most valuable in the collections of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts,Istanbul and the Mevlana Museum,Konya,which were found in the Alaeddin Mosque in Konya in 1905. Besides the above-mentioned carpets,which survived in the mosque,untouched over the centuries, city and village folk alike were also weaving kilims and other fabrics for their own use over the centuries.The Konya carpets do not belong to that category of weave.
After the Konya rugs came the animal-figured carpets of the 14th century.The animal and tree motifs in these rugs, which appear in representation, in the paintings of many European artists of the period,are also to be seen in contemporary textiles.We still see such motifs abstracted in modern fabrics.
The last quarter of the 15th Century is particularly significant for the history of the Turkish carpet.Important innovations based on the aesthetics of the 15th century,led rugs to break free from the design concepts of the 14th century,into interpretations of pattern and motif which were lead into the 16th century.Although the prevalent motifs of 15th century carpets were still animal figures, their compositon and choice of motif-quadrupeds and animal combat scenes emerging in the 15th century differ from those of the 14th century,the paired birds and tree motif being typical of the earlier period.
Towards the end of 15th century,hooked octagon motifs (called ' Eski Nakış' - old embroidered pattern) by a weaver in Şalcı village of Artvin and ' Köhne Nakış ' - old embroidered pattern) in the Kazak carpets of the 20th century replaced animal figures.These early carpets heralded the emergance of the Holbein carpets in the 16th century.
The most important 16th and 17th century rug types,from which many others evolved,are Uşak,bergama and so-called Ottoman court rugs.One type of rug which influenced the formation of contemporary types,both in motif and composition is the medallion,star and bird Uşaks.Uşaks contain curved motifs; Bergama rugs angular motifs.Both types of motif are key aspects of the aesthetic in Turkish carpets generally.ıt would not be totally wrong to look for traces of the Seljuk rugs in the carpets of Bergama rather than in Uşak carpets.Ottoman court carpets arederived stylistically more from the Uşak type.
As in the past, carpets and other fabrics arewoven today in Anatolia and in other Turkic regions.It is possible to divide these weaves into two groups : the first group consists of fabrics woven on the highlands,in villages and cities for the use of the weavers.The second group consists of fabrics produced for the market,which are,in essence,decorative.The inclination of the buyer -based on the rules of supply and demand - plays an important role in the development of this second group.The first group is formed simultaneously within the traditional culture of the weaver, and may undergo only alterations rather than than developments with the influence of cultural changes.