History of Kilim
What is kilim? Kilim, simply is a flat woven carpet or a kind of rug
without any pile or knotted fluff: a coarse, thin hand made carpet. This carpet has
different names in different languages. For instance in Afghanistan it is called
Kilim, in Ukraine Palas, in Caucasia Liat, In Syria
and Lebanon it is called Chilim and in Iran Gelim.
Flat weave is another name for kilim which was used in past. When we come to
know Scandinavian, Polish-Romanian and Hungarian kilims, it is hard to believe that the
origin of these traditional hand-made is desert dwellers of Africa, Central Asia
or South and Central America.
Hardness of season migration, as well as difficulty of pastorals, or hard life in
desert, have made no effect to process these crafts.
Incomparable culture of kilim weaving, is an answer to the basic needs of farmers and
migrants who look for dry and carpeted tent and also warmer bedding.
Weaving has been continuously developed in various regions and times. There are some
documents about kinds and quality of weaving, written in many historical sources such as
Iliad of Homer and Bible. Drawings on coffins, discovered Near Nile River (Egypt), are
good reasons that images and different process of weaving oldness, are related to some
1000 years B.C.
Pastorals and breeding of sheep, goat, horse and camel guaranteed supply of wool and raw
materials for weaving. Preparing dyes constantly became richer by plant growing and
discovering of plant and animal sources.
As some wooden tools of weaving have been buried and destroyed by time, we can not
estimate the real age of weaving; we can only estimate it by the stone tools, which have
been remained since.
Many different kilims and felts belonging to the 4th and 5th
centuries B.C. are very remarkable specimens of the first weavings in East; so it could
surely be said that, this region is the first center of kilim weaving; but it would not be
known that, how much the ancient traditional techniques of kilim weaving have been
developed throughout the world. In the past, only the woolen yarns were used in kilims
weaving, so it became more flexible and specially fine and smooth. Nowadays, pile grades
of single yarns used in kilims , are usually 3 to 5, and those kilims woven
with double skein yarns are stronger.
Considering the Developed civilization of Anatolian (especially at the 6th
century B.C.), could assume that, they are accustomed to kilim weaving and even caused to
new styles of weaving come into existence. One of its reasons was exchanging experiences
of different methods in social common life. One of the oldest carpets remained, is weft
warping kilim supposed to have Ottomans origin. Kilim weaving was
between the 7th and 18th centuries. Seljuk, Ottoman, Mongol,
Mamluk, and Barbarians of North Africa were supporters of this art.
In the past, kilim weaving had an important role in womens life and it was the major
part of their dowry and also a source of income. So brides had to learn this
course, it must be considered, that weaving has only been allocated to woven and yet it is
one of their routine tasks of tribe women.
Kilims have greatly changed during centuries, i.e., more marriages among
different tribes, make different styles mixed together. By the end of 19th
century, kilim weaving was damaged by undesired chemical dyes imported form European
It is obvious, that the reasons of kilim weaving have been vastly changed, in recent
years; cultural motives and personal usage of weaving gave its place to benefits of
trading. A glance at various kilims of different regions, either old or new, shows that
the original kilims have their own special place, as before.