Kilims are flat-woven rugs produced over a wide geographic area that encompasses Turkey, the Balkans, Iran, the Caucasus, North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Central Asian republics and parts of China. Each kilim tells its own story and the motifs contained in each kilim are produced by the intricate and skillful weaving by hand of the warp and weft yarns on looms. As the weavers tend to be nomadic, the looms have to be easily transportable; hence, the finished sizes of kilims are typically narrow but can be seamed together to make larger area coverings.
Kilims, with their richly colored and simple graphic shapes, make the most rustic chic area carpets, hall and stairway runners and as, the photo at the top shows, hard-wearing upholstery for large-sized club chairs. George Smith, the English furniture company, specializes in upholstering club chairs with antique kilims (www.georgesmith.com).
The photo above shows a young Cappadocian girl weaving a kilim at a loom in Goreme and the images from the chart show a typical motif woven into many kilims. In this case the stylized motif is the scorpion. People were afraid of the scorpion’s sting and they used to carry scorpion-shaped amulets to ward off the real thing. Other motifs woven into kilims deal with fertility and motherhood, symbolized by a “hands-on-hips” figure; ram’s horns symbolized masculinity, virility and power; stars depicted happiness; and the tree of life came to symbolize the afterlife. For more motifs and their meaning, visit the informative web site www.kilimtours.com and www.kilim.com.
Marla Mallett, a dealer from Atlanta, carries a wide selection of kilims from all periods and regions (www.marlamallett.com). Marla’s kilims are richly colored and in excellent condition. The only difficulty in dealing with Marla is in selecting which rustic chic kilim to use.