Kilim: Ancient Communication Arts
Sure, it looks like a bunch of triangles…but it’s actually a Kilim, based on the chest motif that originated in the ancient Anatolia (Asia Minor) area.
About The Art of Kilim
The lore of kilim motifs, designs, colors and their symbolism is as rich and complex as the combined heritage of cultures that gave them birth and contributed to their evolution.
One day a Yürük tribal chief saw a kilim rug cast on the ground by a tent. Looking at it brought anguish to his heart, so he called on his men to find the father of the girl who had woven that kilim rug. When the father of the girl was brought to the tent the chief asked:
"You have a daughter, don’t you?"
"Yes, I do" replied the father.
"As I understand it," continued the chief, "you want to marry the girl to someone she doesn’t want. She has set her heart on another."
At first the father was stunned - how could the chief know of this - but then his tongue was loosened:
"That’s true, I’m a poor man and the man who wants to marry my daughter is rich, so I promised to give him her hand in marriage. My girl, though, lost her heart to a poor young man…but how could you know of this?"
The chief pointed to the kilim rug on the ground saying:
"Didn’t your daughter weave this kilim rug?"
"Yes, she did" said the father, to which the chief replied:
"So I knew about it from the language spoken by this kilim rug…I’ll give you a horse, a camel, go and marry the girl to the one she loves. Oh! and tell her this…she wove it well, but she should put a bit less of a green accent by the red…as it is, I was almost misled."
Translated from “Anadolu’da Kilimler de Konusur”, an article by Dr. Mehmet Onder in issue No. 11 of the magazine “Kultur ve Sanat” published by Turkiye Is Bankasi, Sept. 1999, Ankara, Turkey.
This touching, romantic story is a delightful illustration of the intricate art of communication practiced by the kilim weavers who are often illiterate in our sense of the word, but are wonderfully erudite in the language of kilim rugs.
Girls weaving kilim rugs for their dowry chests use this language to express their hopes for children, good fortune or a strong and handsome husband, while a married woman may show her irritation with a prickly mother-in-law or longing for an absent mate. Ancient tribal allegiance may also be expressed through symbols whose meanings are now perhaps forgotten but still kept in designs by some mysterious impulse of the subconscious.