The History of Kilims
There is no agreement about the exact origin of the word ‘Kilim’. Some experts believe that it originated from the Persian word ‘Gelim’. Others have argued for its Turkish roots in their writings. Be it Kilim, or Kelim, or Gelim, there is no doubting the long history that stands behind this type of carpet making. Kilims have been produced in various regions for millennia – in places that we now call the Balkans, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, and many other areas. Researchers have even found evidence of kilim production going as far back as 1000 BC, when sheep’s wool was found suitable for weaving and dying.
Kilim vs. other rugs
The main difference between kilim carpets and other sorts of rugs has to do with the way that their designs are made through different weaving techniques. In the case of pile rugs, for example, short strands of colours are knotted onto warps, and then the wefts get tightly pressed. With kilim, however, the different colours of the warps and wefts are interweaved using a technique called slitweave. So the final kilim product does not have a considerable height. This is why it is referred to as a flatweave rug.
How Kilims are produced?
The tools that Kilim artists use to make these striking rugs include a beating comb, a knife, and a shuttle to weave the strands. Some artists use cotton, silk, and gold or silver threads in their weaves; but generally wool is the primary and main material that kilims are made from. The reasons for using wool is that it is durable and flexible. Dying it is easy too, and there are many sources of this material in the regions where kilim are made.
The design and combinations of materials used in any production are ultimately based on what the piece will be used for as well as the artist’s own techniques and taste. Having said that, inspiration is the key when it comes to kilims’ design. This is why no two pieces of kilim are exactly the same.