Tale woven from Kashmiri and Turkish rugs

Kashmiri and Turkish rugs are among the most luxurious items presented in any market, whether local or international. While Turkish and Kashmiri rugs are part of the cultural heritage of both regions, they also adorn homes and religious shrines around the world.

A woman weaving traditional Turkish rugs in her home, Cappadocia, Turkey. (Getty Images)

The magnificent carpet weaving loom was introduced to the Kashmir Valley from Persia in the 14th century, after which the carpet industry flourished. It was around this time that Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin was organizing carpet-weaving workshops to instill the skill in people. He also used to train prisoners in reformatories to make rugs. Gradually, carpet weaving became an intrinsic part of Kashmiri culture and traditional hand-knotted rugs began to be known locally as “Kal baffi”. Kashmir rugs are popular around the world for their quality material and authenticity and are particularly known for being handmade and unique in their exquisite style.

The weaving of rugs and rugs is also a traditional Anatolian-Turkish craft. Central Asia was an ideal area for the first activities of carpet weaving because of its climate and its lands favorable to the breeding of sheep. Carpet-rug weaving arrived in Anatolia with the Turkish tribes from Central Asia. This craft having a long history in Turkish lands, it constitutes the socio-cultural identity of Anatolia. Turkey today is a major manufacturer of rugs or rugs, and Turkish rugs are usually woven with symmetrical knots called Turkish knots or Ghiordes knots.

A man weaving a traditional Kashmiri rug, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, April 18, 2019 (Shutterstock Photo)

A traditional handmade Kashmiri rug on the loom.  (Photo Shutterstock)

Kashmir rugs include a wide range of floral, bird, tree and beauty designs inspired by nature. Rugs are mainly used to cover floors in Kashmir, but sometimes appear as wall hangings, decor pieces or bedding material. The yarn used in Kashmir rugs is either wool or silk. The Mughals introduced the use of zari, which is a uniform thread traditionally made of fine gold or silver, in the manufacture of rugs to add sparkle to these artifacts. However, zari work is encouraged more on loose clothing like shawls or pherans (the traditional attire of men and women in the Kashmir Valley). Carpet makers in Kashmir still follow the traditional method of paper shorthand note taking called talim, followed by other steps. Recently, young artists have also incorporated new techniques of using the art of calligraphy on silk rugs. In addition, the use of gold and silver threads is appreciated by overseas customers. Local artisans believe the latest addition of calligraphic art is bringing Kashmir’s lucrative carpet industry to life.

A colorful carpet market, Göreme, Nevşehir, central Turkey.  (Getty Images)

A colorful carpet market, Göreme, Nevşehir, central Turkey. (Getty Images)

Anatolian rugs are also distinguished by the special characteristics of their dyes, colors, patterns, textures and techniques. It is known that the patterns of these rugs reflect the emotions and thoughts of people. Therefore, the carpets emerge as important cultural documents in the assessment of the culture of Turkish society. For example, popular motifs like “elibelinde” (“hands on the hips”) and “hayat aÄŸacı” (“tree of life”) emphasize birth and proliferation. While sheep’s wool, cotton, and natural dyes are the raw materials for hand-woven Turkish rugs, rugs and rugs made of silk, sometimes with woven gold or silver threads, have also been produced. in the country, especially during the Ottoman period.

The intersection of Turkish and Kashmiri rugs lies in their durability, quality, resilience, cultural symbols and the visual heritage of the Islamic faith. Nevertheless, their aesthetic value and their tradition are the most distinctive characteristics of the two. In Kashmir, almost all religious places of the Islamic faith have been carefully decorated with handmade and expensive rugs. Sufi shrines, an essential element of the Kashmiri social fabric, are adorned with carpets on the ground and sometimes around the walls. In Turkey, the floors of mosques are also covered with beautiful rugs. Unique examples of historic carpets from Turkish history can be examined at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art (TIEM) and the Carpet Museum in Istanbul.

For decades, the carpet industry in Turkey and Kashmir has remained a key economic contributor to the state. The value of a rug or rug is determined by the quality of the material used, the time used to make it as well as the method of production. Hand weaving is a tedious process; hence, handmade rugs are expensive compared to machine made rugs. Nevertheless, Kashmiri and Turkish rugs have found a buyer despite their high prices thanks to their hand-woven quality. In Europe, Turkish rugs were very popular and were originally only found in palaces and churches. These rugs were used as an accessory in paintings by Dutch and Italian artists, and later used as wall decorations.

A Kashmiri rug featuring a wide range of floral designs in Srinagar, Kashmir.  (Getty Images)

Carpets and columns inside the Jamia Masjid, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.  (Getty Images)

In general, people find it difficult to tell the difference between handmade and machine-woven rugs. But handmade rugs are warm and heavy while machine made rugs are light and cooler. Cheap Chinese products are masquerading as Turkish and Kashmiri rugs in the international market today, which unfortunately makes China the largest exporter of rugs in the world. However, all types of Turkish and Kashmiri rugs, including hand-made, machine-made and machine-tufted variants, outperform all Chinese rugs in terms of quality.

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