Kilim Rugs – Persian
The term ‘Kilim’ originates from the Persian gelīm (گلیم) where it means ‘to spread roughly’. Perhaps of Mongolian origin. The Turkish name is “Kilim” as well. Like pile carpets, Kilim rugs go back to the ancient times.
The explorer Mark Aurel Stein found Kilims dating to at least the fourth or fifth century CE in Hotan, China:
- “As Kilims are much less durable than rugs that have a pile to protect the warp and weft, it is not surprising that few of great age remain. The weave is almost identical with that of modern Kilims, and has about fourteen threads of warp and sixteen threads of weft to the inch. The pattern consists of narrow stripes of blue, green, brownish yellow, and red, containing very small geometric designs. With this one exception, so peculiarly preserved, there are probably very few over a century old.”
They produce the Kilim rugs by tightly interweaving the warp and weft strands of the weave to produce a flat surface with no pile. The weaves are tapestry weaves, technically weft-faced plain weaves, that is,they pull the horizontal weft strands tightly downward so that they hide the vertical warp strands.
When the weaver reaches to the end of a color boundary, he winds back weft yarn from the boundary point. Thus, if the boundary of a field is a straight vertical line, a vertical slit forms between the two different color areas where they meet. For this reason, they class most Kilim rugs as “slit woven” textiles. The collectors love the slits, as they produce very sharp-etched designs, emphasizing the geometry of the weave. Weaving strategies for avoiding slit formation, such as interlocking, produce a more blurred design image.
The weft strands, which carry the visible design and color, are almost always wool. Whereas the hidden warp strands can be either wool or cotton. The warp strands are only visible at the ends, where they emerge as the fringe. They usually tie the fringe in bunches, to ensure against loosening or unraveling of the weave.
Kilim Rugs’ Motifs
Kilim rugs use many motifs, each with many variations. One of the most famous motifs is the elibelinde, a stylized female figure, motherhood and fertility. Other motifs express the tribal weavers’ desires for protection of their families’ flocks from wolves with the wolf’s mouth or the wolf’s foot motif or for safety from the sting of the scorpion. Several motifs hope for the safety of the weaver’s family from the evil eye, which they classify them into four with a cross symbol, or averted with the symbol of a hook, a human eye, or an amulet. Such an amulet of a rug is not a picture of the thing itself. It actually is an amulet, conferring protection by its presence.
Other motifs symbolize fertility, as with the trousseau chest motif, or the explicit fertility motif. The motif for running water similarly depicts the resource literally. A fetter motif shows the desire to tie a family or lovers together. Several other motifs represent the desire for good luck and happiness. For instance the bird and the star or Solomon’s seal. And also The oriental symbol of Yin/Yang for love and unison.