The nomads in Turkey have based their culture and traditions mostly on animal feeding and textile production. The nomadic textiles are as much famous as the sheep and goats that they feed. Durable, elaborately designed, and functional, these textile products were not only appreciated by Anatolian nomad communities themselves but by sedentary people too even in Urban cities.
The textiles are generally produced by women in the nomadic society of Turkey. The textile production of nomads includes only one man-performed part which is shearing the animals. Nomads shear once a year their animals. The seep wool and the goat hair are separated according to their color and stored like this.
Just after the wool is shorn the first thing to do is to expose the shorn fleece to the sunlight. The sweat and the urine of the animal will evaporate and the wool will be ready to be washed. One fleece obtained from one sheep weighs approximately two or three kilos as dirty. After being washed and dried, the wool will lose half of its weight and will be around one or one and a half kilograms. So we can say that the dirty wool can keep as much dirt, dust, and humidity as its weight.
The wool fleeces are washed by women after being completely dried out in the sunshine. The best way to wash is to beat the wetted wool with long and heavy sticks continuously. There is no need to use any artificial soap or detergent agent. The alkaline property of the dried sweat and urine begins the saponification reaction and the wool is bubbling up. The beating also provides the spiky bushes and the impurities go away. After the washing and rinsing in cold stream water, the wool is lied down on the grass under the sunshine and dried.
After this stage, the combing process follows. The wool is combed by special combs and all of the fibers within the wool are brought to a parallel state to each other. This will provide the wool to be spun easily and in a uniform thickness.
If there is a rush for the spinning process, the Anatolian nomads will use a big bow made of sheep gut and a wooden bow to make the fleece fluffy enough to be spun. They put some yarn onto the gut string of the bow and make it vibrate so that the fleece will open up by the effect of the vibration. The wool yarn spun after this process would be less uniform in this way.
The spinning requires continuous attention and hand habit to make a uniform yarn. In each gesture, the fingers should pull the same amount of fibers from the combed wool roll that is called “tops” and let the spindle turns the fibers into the string or yarn. Generally, nomads of Turkey use the drop spindle so that they can move, walk, or make other duties while spinning.
The yarns are spun with many or few tours so the yarn would be loosely spun or tightly spun. This property of the yarn is decided according to the place that it will be used. Pile carpet yarns are loosely spun, the warp yarns are tightly spun the weft and kilim yarns are half tightly spun. The warping yarns are unified as two layers and those layers are always twisted to the opposite area so the t the warp will be durable during the weaving on the loom. From time to time the bombed wool or fluffed fleece is wetted jut a bit to obtain some lubrication effect while spinning extremely fine yarn. Then the water is evaporated.
After the yarns are prepared the dyeing process is made with the dyeing herbs and yarns boiled together until reaching the desired color. Mordants which are the metallic salt type of color fixers of wool yarns are used too to fortify the color or create a distinct hue. The yarns are rinsed and dried. After this process, the weaving operation may begin.
For the goat hair shorn almost the same process is followed except the washing of the shorn air and dyeing. The hair is not washed but the textile is washed after being woven. Also, the goat hair is not dyed generally and used with the natural color that it has.
Some other fibers are also used by Nomads of Turkey according to the thickness and functionality of the textile. Horse mane hair can be used in very coarse weavings as a structure fortifier. Angora which is rare is used to embellish the textile or to produce very fine and delicate textiles. Hemp is also time to time used if found abundantly in an occasion. Their process is more or less similar to the above operations but requires experience and knowledge.