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Woven Art

Kilim rugs bring tradition and artistry to The Met Store

Did you know that The Met Store’s specialist buyer travels thousands of miles each year to source beautiful rugs that have been woven using traditional techniques? These rugs feature shapes, patterns, and color schemes similar to the precious rugs in the Museum’s collection.

Assortment of rugs.

A selection of rugs on a recent trip to Turkey.

 

The Mezzanine Gallery Store has specialized in the selling of new and semi-antique rugs and textiles from around the globe for over 30 years. The most common rugs featured in our assortment are known as kilims. The term kilim derives from Persian, denoting a pileless textile, and kilims have been used historically both for decoration and for prayer. Also offered are rugs that use the more complex brocaded sumak weave, and some that are a combination of both. These rugs are created by hand using the same methods as those found in The Met collection.

The Met houses many fine examples of kilim rugs as well as a wide variety of other court, workshop, village, and nomadic weavings. These were used by all levels of society for a range of purposes—from utilitarian to decorative to religious. The carpet pictured below is composed of two parts, which were designed and woven to be sewn together. The use of elaborate silk brocade increases the quality and value of the kilim. Kilims like this were produced in Ottoman urban weaving centers in North Africa and Greater Syria, where they were traditionally used by the wealthy to decorate their houses.

Kilim from the met Collection.

Kilim, Syria, probably Aleppo, late 19th–early 20th century. Cotton, wool; slit-tapestry weave, brocaded.

 

Our buyer travels several times a year to Central Turkey, Istanbul, and on occasion other parts of Turkey and Central Asia to source rugs that are hand-made by artisans. The rugs we carry come from Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and the Caucasus Mountains. Our semi-antique rugs range from 40 to 75 years in age. When considering which rugs to select, the buyer first considers color and design, followed by condition and size.

Rugs being measured.

Pictured here, rugs being measured and considered for purchase in Turkey.

 

Village artisans, typically women, create kilim rugs using the same methods that have been used for centuries. The weaving of carpets has traditionally been a way for women to contribute to their household. Hand-weaving on a loom, the weaver uses hand-dyed and hand-spun wool, weaving the warp and weft strands tightly to produce a flat surface with no pile. A loom’s function is to hold the warps (longitudinal strand) taught so that the wefts (horizontal strands) can be woven between the warp. The kilim technique utilizes a tool known as a beater, which presses down the wefts to cover the warps, resulting in a tapestry weave. Modern rugs use natural dyes whereas older village or tribal rugs can use synthetic dyes. Depending on the size and complexity of pattern, a rug can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to complete.

Woman at loom.

Artisan at a vertical loom in Turkey.

Woman at loom.

A weaver at her loom in Turkey.

Take home your own woven artwork by joining us, from November 3–12, on the Mezzanine level of The Met Store for our annual sale of hand-woven kilim rugs. For more details visit Facebook.

Your purchase supports The Met’s collection, study, conservation, and presentation of 5,000 years of art.

 

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