|Fine ethnographic Oriental rugs, kilims (kelims) and other weavings have been produced by nomads and villagers throughout the Middle East and Central Asia for centuries. Decorative woven saddlebags, storage sacks, tent hangings, animal trappings and floor or ground covers have traditionally enhanced every important aspect of daily life, and are genuine expressions of tribal culture.
The geometric motifs in these antique tribal rugs and weavings evolved directly on the loom. Traditional designs--some religious, talismanic or totemic--were passed from one generation to the next, with each weaver creating subtle variations that reflected her own artistic personality.
Among techniques used by the artisans were tapestry, brocading, soumak, knotting and warp- and weft-substitution weaves. These are explained briefly on this website's Basic Tribal Weaves page, and are discussed in more detail in Marla's book, WOVEN STRUCTURES.
All of the tribal textiles on these pages have been gathered by Marla on research/buying trips to the Middle East -- primarily Turkey. In Criteria For Selecting Tribal Textiles, Marla discusses the qualities she looks for when selecting antique weavings. For a discussion of tribal bags, go to The Varieties of Tribal Bags and Panels.
For a discussion of restoration and conservation issues, check out More Early Kilims. For washing instructions go to Wet Cleaning Procedures for Old Textiles and Rugs. For a discussion of rug-design evolution, go to Tracking the Archetype. For a discussion devoted solely to kilim design evolution see One Example of Anatolian Kilim Evolution. For recommended books, go to the Tribal Flatweaves Bibliography. For other kinds of textile art, return to our HOME page.