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The Textiles of Turkey

July 18, 2012

This spring, I was fortunate to travel through Turkey for a month and see their vast variety of textiles, from traditional to contemporary. The antique kilims of Anatolia are world renowned, and Turkey is home to one of the largest textile infrastructures in the world. However, it was in the countryside that I found the most surprises.

The rural areas of the country are traditional in their farming practices. Much of the countryside is living what we would consider a permaculture lifestyle. The results of these practices are rich, cohesive communities of abounding farmland and pastures of healthy livestock. Shepherding still plays a very valuable part within the Turkish culture, and these duties are shared by family and community members. Sheep are identified by colored spray paint to the rear and all animals are commingled.

However it was in the predominately Kurdish, far east region which was my favorite part of the country. Many still live nomadically, seeking pasture for their goats. These animals provide a deep brown-black fiber which is handspun into yarn. This yarn is then handwoven into a water resistant tent material under which they live. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to see it displayed at the museum in Mardin, being used in a non-traditional way, but providing an opportunity to photograph this beautiful, and practical, textile tradition.

At the end of the trip, we returned to Istanbul and explored some of the less tourist-trafficked neighborhoods. What a surprise to find the Bay Area phenomenon, the Knit Bomb! This wild way to cover an object in a public space with knitting and crochet is always a delight to find. This was the biggest and most impressive I have seen anywhere, and I think you will agree.

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