While the term Oriental rugs covers many different types, Kilim rugs can be considered in a class by themselves. This is because of their popularity, style, and unique construction which makes a Kilim rug one that many will desire to own.
What are Kilim Rugs?
The term Kilim comes from the Turks. It describes a rug of unique construction, made from a pileless textile that is created by using many flatweaving techniques that emanate from Africa across the Middle East to Asia. The specific countries where such rugs originate include the following;
- North Africa
- Turkey: Including Thrace and Anatolia
- Central Asia: Including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China
A Kilim rug might be considered an Oriental rug and it certainly falls with the geographic family. However, most people who are familiar with this type of rug will usually put the Kilim in a separate classification.
Materials & Tools
While seemingly complicated in design, this type of rug is made from simple materials and a straightforward weaving process. The basics needed to weave the rug are a loom, knife or scissors for cutting, a beating comb, and a shuttle although the latter is not required.
Wool is the primary material since it is quite strong, durable, and can be easily weaved. You may also find silk, animal hair, such as camel, horse, or goat, and cotton as part of the mixture of materials with the wool. In addition, some of the decorative items includes beads, baubles, and gold or silver thread to help set a particular rug apart. However, for the most part wool is used which is colored to create the many different patterns that are seen on the rug.
Wool: Probably the most popular reason that wool is used is because the material is plentiful in the region. The strength and durability are the major reasons why wool is so appropriate for this type of rug. However, it can also be easily dyed to create a wide variety of colors. Both for warps and wefts, wool is the primary material. However, there are Kilim rugs that use cotton for the warps.
Cotton: Cotton is also plentiful in the region which combined with its durability makes it perfect for the warps that help create Kilim rugs. It also helps that cotton can be threaded into fine strands for more intricate designs that make each rug unique. It can interweave with wool easily and it holds up over time with minimal maintenance and cleaning.
Silk: While highly desired, silk is not that commonly used in the rug design and only in certain parts of the world. For the most part, silk is used in the Anatolia region of Turkey, most notably int eh Kayseri district where silk is regarded as a status symbol that was woven into the rugs they created.
Animal Hair: Although strong, the use of horse, goat, or camel hair is limited in the creation of Kilim rugs. Goat hair may be the most common thanks to its plentiful supply, but that was mostly used to weave tents and floors rather than create rugs. Camel hair is sometimes used in Kilim rugs because of its strength, which allows for more creativity in the design.
The tail or mane of horses provide for decorative tassels or fringes which makes for a unique design. However, for the most part you will find little to no animal hair in the majority of Kilim rugs.
Baubles and Beads: These are the final touches for some rugs, adding a unique design element that offers a particular appeal. However, many beads and baubles are included simply to demonstrate the authenticity of the rug itself. While extraneous to the purpose of the rug, they are nevertheless an important inclusion for many who weave the Kilim rugs.
How It Is Made
What makes a Kilim rug different than a standard pile rug or carpet is the way it is put together. While pile rugs are usually mad with short strands of wool or cotton in various colors being knotted onto warps and put together with tight wefts. A Kilim rug are created by interweaving different colors of warps and wefts which is known as a flatweave.
The weaving is called the slitweave technique which is created by returning the weft around the last warp located in an area of color. There is a gap that is created between the first color and the next when the weft of the latter is returned around the warp that is adjacent. The weaving will pack the wefts tightly, which covers the warp. The result is that many Kilim rugs feature diagonal patterns which help to hold up the vertical slits.
Compared to a plainweave, the slitweave process offers more freedom of expression with bolder, sharper patterns being created. You will see many different designs within a typical Kilim rug that are both geometric and floral in nature.
How Kilim Rugs are Used
There are many uses for Kilim rugs, starting with covering the floor which is their most common use. However, thanks to the weaving and material, the rugs themselves are quite strong and durable which means that they can be hung on the wall, used as coverings for benches and divans, and made into mule saddles or bags.
Once the Kilim rug is made, it can be used for a variety of different products thanks to its tight weave, strong material, and colorful patterns which makes each product unique. Because of their popularity, it’s common to see various bags and coverings that are made from this unique design.
In the end, Kilim rugs of good quality are well-worth the investment. A good Kilim rug is strong, beautiful, durable, and quite popular. With minimal maintenance and cleaning, they will last for a long time depending on the foot traffic or their use in terms of bags or bench coverings. Their unique construction and excellent design makes them a must-have for those who want a high-quality rug for their home.