Exhibition Würzburg 20. March - 19. May 2007

From Pirot to Smyrna

Antique Kilims and Carpets from the Balkans

and from Western Anatolia

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Antique Kilims and Carpets from the Balkans and from Western Anatolia

While travelling Anatolia in recent decades I have time and again come across flat weaves that were quite different from most other Anatolian kilims. The often almost wafer-thin textiles were woven of superfine wool, their colours and patterns featuring a distinct relationship with the "Yugoslav" kilim. In the past centuries, these textiles were mainly worked in the region of today's Bulgaria and generally relate to the traditional design of the original inhabitants of Bulgaria. They were Turkoman peoples who crossed the river Danube in the
7th cent. AD, invaded the country and mixed with the indigenous Slavs.
The origin of the Anatolian elements in kilims such as the Sarköy Kilim is still controversially discussed: do we have to ascribe them to early Turkoman colonisation or rather to the Ottoman conquests of the 15th and 16th centuries? At that time, numerous Yürük tribes were migrating from north western and western Anatolia to the newly conquered areas of the Balkans where they usurped the best pastures. As a result the textile culture of this region was strongly affected.
I have always been impressed by the textiles' uniqueness and by their magical glow. When studying textiles from the Balkans I have been amazed to find such a lot of similarities between examples of the so-called Sarköy-Kilim and the Manastir-Kilim, as well as Sarköy and Manastir carpets. Most of these woven and knotted textiles come from the Balkans. During the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the Ottoman Empire withdrew from the Balkan region. By the early 20th century the Ottomans had lost the largest part of the country. While they were withdrawing from the Balkans the Turkish population began to remigrate. They re-settled mainly in western and central Anatolia where they continued to weave and knot their traditional kilims and carpets whose origin of design and pattern often cannot be clearly located. We therefore eventually arrive at the conclusion that together with the conquerors of the country the Anatolian traditional design moved around, far into south eastern Europe where it mixed with indigenous elements and then returned to Anatolia centuries later. w.b.