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17. February - 20. March 2004  TÜLÜ - Long Pile Rugs from Central Anatolia


Schachbrett Tulu

red blue


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TÜLÜ - Long Pile Rugs from Central Anatolia
Men had slept on roughly stitched up animal skins ever since prehistoric times. However, they eventually succeeded in knotting woollen threads into fabric and as a result became able to produce larger and more regularly shaped sleeping rugs. The tülü from the Karapinar region east of Konya illustrate the history of their origin.
The name "TÜLÜ" is derived from Turkish "tüylü", meaning "feathery", which describes the texture and look of the textile as well as its use.
Tülü often look like enormous sheep skins. Natural shades of soft white, beige and brown wool make them appear lively and vigorous. Dyed wool is not often used. Unlike in "normal" rugs, motifs are sparsely applied.
Tülü were produced for private use only and were consequently never subject to any dictate of fashion or restraint of convention. This is the reason why largely unknown ancient and archaic symbolism has survived in the tülü over the centuries. These rugs have a strong and rather intriguing effect on the "Occidental" viewer.
The rug is ideal to sleep on because of its long pile and the velvety texture of the sheep's wool. Mohair goat hair was also used, but not as often as sheep's wool; camel hair was occasionally used in combination with other wool. In everyday life, these sleeping rugs were practical in many ways: they served as carpets in the entrance to the tent, as horse blankets, as throws on sofas, as wall hangings to protect the family against cold, heat and wet. Small tülü were used as cushions, prayer rugs or sleeping rugs for children.
In this exhibition, some 35 tülü are representing the classic aesthetics of surprisingly fashionable and up-to-date looking carpets. The oldest example shown is a "chessboard tülü" in red and blue, from 1860. Most of the other exhibits are about 50 years old, some are older. They are evidence of the "cultivation of tülü" which was kept up well into the 20th century.