Turkey has a deep and detailed weaving history and culture. There had been many weaving activities in different regions covering personal needs or having commercial purposes in the Neolithic, Archaic, Hellenistic, Roman and medieval Byzantine periods which had their style and aesthetic perceptions.
After the arrival of Turkmen tribes to the Anatolian Peninsula, the weaving culture changed tremendously, and a new cultural layer about Anatolian textiles formed by the effect of Turks who begun to live in Anatolia after the early 11th century.
One distinct branch of Anatolian Turkic weaving is the Nomadic Textiles.
There had been no other civilizations who grounded their existence and survival on the weaving activity except Nomads. For this reason, Nomadic textiles are ethnographically very important.
To describe the extent of this basis and emphasize the weaving activity, the formation of Nomadic textiles can be described as this allegory: The nomad woman collect the wool and spins. She accumulates one dimensioned hairs of several centimeters of length and produces an endless continuum of one dimensioned long strings. Then, she prepares the loom and weaves, which means she creates a two dimensioned platform to use in her daily life. Then she unites the textiles that she produced and makes her domicile and the household within the domicile. That means she weaved a life!
We will pass over the main textiles produced by Anatolian Turkmens and try to see how much deep they used their weaving skills in their daily life.
The tent fabric is exclusively produced by nomads for their own needs. The black goat hair is shorn and combed. Then it is coarsely spun and twisted by nomad women. Then it is woven in the form of narrow bands of 60-70 cm and long as much as in is needed. The fabric is rainproof. It does not let the venomous insects and reptiles step onto. (The hairs coming out of the fabric is like spikes for those animals’ belly). It allows the insiders to see the outside view as a net but blocks the view from the outside. It is quite a heavy fabric that has a very strong heat-insulating property.
The felt is another textile, maybe the most primitive one based on the formation of a surface by the effect of the pressure and the humidity on the wool. The primary use of the felt was the coverage of the old types of round Central Asian tents, who have been abandoned in the historical process. The felt is very much used ad the ground covering rug too. Extremely good heat insulator, the falt is used to make hats, saddle covers, and small bags too.
The bags are maybe the most distinguished and most diverse part of the nomadic textiles. Clothing and personal belongings storage bags, called “ala chuval”, Grain and flour sacks from white wool tightly woven, black warp-faced sacks for the other utensils, vanity bags, spoon bags, two-sided saddlebags, spindle bags, roller pin bags, shears bags. The small mirror-eye liner bags etc. The reason for so many bags is because nomads cannot have solid and heavy wardrobes in their tribal lives which are mostly based on mobility.
The other two related textiles used by nomads are the sofra and the bread storage rug. Sofra is the flat-woven rug with few patterns to sit and have meals on. Its dimensions depend on the number of family members. Bread storage bag too is a flat woven rug to cover the flatbread baked on a big iron pan. These sheets of bread cooked as layers of dough are solid and fragile. Before eating, they are sparkled and left wrapped to this bread textile to be soft and it is folded before serving.
Another interesting textile is the band. Generally woven by tablet weaving technique and with elaborate patters, the bands are generally over 6 meters and serve to wrap loads and packs on the animals such as horses, donkeys, or camels. Some bands are used to fix the tent too.
“Perdeh” has the meaning of curtain in Turkish. These textiles are generally very finely spun and warp-faced to fortify the structure against the harsh usage in the migration. The perdeh is generally woven in the form of different colored narrow panels of 30 cm and several meters, then sewn together to obtain a surface. Generally, they are used as bedding pile cover in the tent during the daytime. During the nights they are used to divide the tent to obtain several rooms to sleep in. During the migration, they are put onto the load in the back of the camels and wrapped over with an animal pack band and covers the whole load as a packaging paper that holds everything together.
Nomad textiles are generally produced by taking into account the functionality, but the finesse is another important property that brings lightness to the woven pieces. The visual beauty and colors are the side joys to impress the people around for the aesthetic and artistic talent of the weaver.