From sage-green vintage Oushak to smoky terra cotta Hereke, the timeless beauty of Turkish rugs adds a luxuriously pulled together look to any room. Their natural abrash gradations and intricately realized patterns make them designer go-tos to anchor, ground and accent spaces. And if you’re lucky enough to score a genuine antique or vintage rug in great condition, you have a treasure on your hands.
Vintage Turkish rugs can be an investment, so it’s important to take the time to shop for the right one. Fortunately, the internet has made it easy to compare and contrast different options to find the perfect fit for your home. But beware: Not all Turkish rugs are created equal, and the quality can vary significantly from region to region. Here are a few tips to help you find the best one for your space.
The art of carpet weaving was born in the cold, rugged terrain of Anatolia, which once served as the cradle for roving tribes of Asian origin. These nomadic tribes needed something to cover the floor of their tent and to sleep on while traveling, so they invented rugs.
As such, rugs are among the world’s oldest textiles, with designs influenced by the cultures that created them and by the changing needs of their weavers. The Timurid dynasty, for example, gave rise to the central medallion design that’s now considered one of the classics of Oriental carpets.
Today, the majority of Turkic-woven rugs are hand-knotted, which adds to their value and artisanal appeal. But some weavers also incorporate synthetics into their weave, a cost-effective option for modern homeowners or designers who want to add a contemporary twist to traditional styles.
The main types of Turkic-woven rugs are kilim, which feature a plain slit tapestry weave that leaves a gap or “stripe” between sections woven with yarns in different colors; sumak, with weft wrapping for a sturdier flat-woven rug; and cicim, a thicker form of sumak that includes extra brocade techniques used by tribal villages and village weavers. Then, within each of these broad categories are the many regional styles. Milan-based rug dealer Alfredo Levi points to Bergama, with its bright reds and strong geometric motifs; Kars, which uses the strongest wool and a heavy, textured warp and weft; and Konya, where Marco Polo once visited.
Whether your Turkish rug has a regal Oushak feel or a more rustic Caucasus Kula vibe, it should be treated with care. These handmade pieces are delicate in nature, and they can be ruined by improper cleaning or oversaturating with sunlight. So before you attempt to clean a vintage Turkish rug yourself, read up on how to take care of it to protect your investment.
Using a professional rug cleaner is the best way to protect your investment. A professional will be able to use the proper tools and methods to prevent any damage, while still keeping your rug looking beautiful. Besides, professionals know how to properly handle your rug, which is important because vintage Turkish rugs often feature delicately woven colors and markings.