Part 1: History Of Wool Kilim

Part 1: History Of Wool Kilim

Aegean Region

This region by the Aegean Sea is arguably the most familiar to Western audiences because it encompasses the lands of Troy, made famous by the recent Brad Pitt film. To students of history it’s a land renowned for its superb achievements in arts and architecture, not exclusively but particularly during the period of the Ionian Renaissance. Rich and strategically placed, the Aegean region was frequently subject of invasions, which often brought depredations and destruction, but its climate, natural beauty and the talents of its population also often brought out the best in rulers and artists to give us some of the most enthralling monuments to human genius, among them two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


Wool kilims of the Afyon region are generally distinguished by finger-like protrusions that extend outwards from medallions or from other geometric shapes employed in the designs. The name of this characteristic motif is Parmakli which comes from the Turkish word parmak, or finger, so the design can be translated as “with fingers”. Parmakli, however, also suggests parmaklik, or fence, and in some Afyon designs there are so many of these protrusions that they do seem to evoke fences rather than fingers. Or, perhaps, they may symbolize the high mountain ranges rising like barriers on the borders of the region.

Its full name of Afyonkarahisar commonly shortened to Afyon, the city and its province are located in the West of central Anatolia where archaeological finds show human habitation at least as early as the Chalcolithic Age and Hittites rule beginning ca. 1800 BC. The construction of the castle that dominates the town is attributed to the Hittite King Mursilis (ca. 1350 BC). Before the arrival of Turkmen tribes ca. AD 1070 Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Gauls (or Galatians), Pergamenes, Romans and Byzantines ruled here and Afyon was variously known as Acroenos, Acronion, Nicopolis and Opion. Phrygian culture flowered here between the 8th and 7th centuries BC and it was in the nearby former Phrygian capital of Gordion that textile fragments from that era were found. Amongst these were scraps of the earliest known plainweaves and slitweaves, some with simple geometric designs, which may possibly have been the forerunners of today’s wool kilims. At the very least it shows that the basic techniques of kilim-making were already practiced in that era.

Contemporary Afyon wool kilims are made in plainweave or slitweave, and the primary colors employed are apricot, pink, blue, green, and yellow. The hues are mainly light, but some new village wool kilims tend to be garish unless fade in the sun. Wool and mohair are produced in the region and the wool used for kilims is of medium and fine quality.

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