Traveling throughout Turkey, seeing the beautiful Turkish rugs on display, I decided it was time to purchase one for my new villa. After researching how to select and buy a good quality Turkish rug, I wanted to pass on these tips.
Purchasing an authentic Turkish rug is determined by the materials used, the number of knots per square unit, and possibly a hidden signature in the pattern.
Difference between a kilim and hali
Generally, the difference between a kilim and hali is the size and the weight of the rug.
A kilim is a flat-woven rug, the oldest of which is thought to have emerged in 7000 BC. Kilims are typically smaller rugs used as prayer rugs or kitchen or bathroom rugs. A kilim is thinner and looks more like a blanket.
Another type of rug is called hali, knotted rugs, believed to have been introduced in the 8th or 9th century. Hali rugs are used in larger spaces such as a living room. They tend to be a little thicker to withstand the foot traffic.
While visiting a rug-making school in Avanos, I learned how the silk thread is taken from the silkworm cocoon, then made into threads and then dyed in different colors, and then woven to create elaborate authentic Turkish rugs. There, I learned that that one square meter takes approximately 5-6 months to complete. I appreciate their hard work of weaving rugs and would like to share some helpful tips in purchasing a Turkish rug.
A genuine, authentic Turkish rug has a couple of determining factors to consider for it’s “authenticity.”
- A real authentic Turkish rug is from 100% silk threads. These rugs are smooth but challenging to recognize just by touch. Examine the vertical and horizontal threads, and if one of those looks thicker than the thread going the opposite direction, it is most likely a blend. (They tend to weave them with wool).
- No matter what year the rug was made, it is no longer considered a genuine Turkish rug if woven with wool.
- Check the rug’s backside, and you should see the same pattern on the backside as you do on the front side of the rug.
- Look at the number of knots per square unit. The more knots per square unit, the higher the quality of the rug.
- Check for a hidden signature which can be in the patterns.
- Find out where or what village the rug is made.
- Request a certificate of authenticity.
I have seen some gorgeous rugs, and although they are made in Turkey, they are not considered “authentic” because they are machine-made and not handwoven.
I am only sharing with you about “authentic” rug guidelines because I want you to be knowledgeable when working with a salesperson and avoid being ripped off.
Picking Out a Rug
Every time you walk into a rug store, your eyes become overwhelmed with so many decorative designs and colors, it is hard to decide which one to look at and so here are some things to do before heading out to shop for one:
Helpful tips before shopping:
- Decide on a size (Sizes run a little differently than traditional rugs in the USA.)
- Decide on colors you would like to see on the rug.
- How much you want to spend on the rug?
- What room will the rug be in your home or business to determine if you want a kilim or hali rug?
- Share with the salesperson what you’re looking for you desire so that you can be shown only those that fit your requirement.
Helpful tips while shopping:
- Touch the rug. It may feel like silk but may consist of other blends. It will be hard to determine by the feel of the rug. Do not be shy about asking what materials are used to make the rug.
- Thick, soft threads, maybe cotton.
- If it feels itchy, it may be pure wool.
- Look at the rug’s back to see if you can see the same design/pattern as on the front of the rug.
- Examine the knitting of the knots and how tight they are together: the closer together, the more authentic the rug.
- Look at the thickness of the rug.
- Ask if the rug comes with a certification of authenticity.
- Ask where the rug is made.
- Knowing the materials used in the making of your rug is so important and will determine the type of cleaning process to use on the rug.
- Silk rugs are extremely sensitive, so products used on these rugs can affect the rug’s color and texture and would need to be cleaned by a professional.
- Ask the seller to give you care instructions for the rug.
- The best cleaning method to use regularly is vacuuming.
- Check that the vacuum cleaner does not have a brush with hard bristles, damaging the rug.
- Consider deep cleaning the rug once a year, which means taking it to a professional.
Purchasing a Turkish rug is an investment. You want this rug to be useful but also know that it will require care to maintain the rug. If you know a little history behind the village that made the rug, it makes for good storytelling when visitors admire your beautiful rug. Appreciate your rug as the women that spend time making them take great pride in their work.
I hope that you find these tips helpful in making your purchase of a Turkish rug.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.
Inshallah (God willing!)