All About Taspinar Rugs

The Rug in Taspinar

The rug has an important place in traditional arts. It is a knotted and pile surface weaving art that provides many needs such as mattresses, pillows, cushions, cedar covers, saddle rugs, saddlebags, and wall carpets. Carpets made using Turkish knots have been used in many regions in Anatolia to meet people’s needs, such as floor mats, covers, and decorations. In Aksaray and its surroundings, carpets are made using natural wool yarn and root dye specific to the region and traded according to the sources that have come to the present day. 

The History of Taspinar and its Rugs

The Region; Taspinar was founded for the first time in 1515, during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim, by a Turkish tribe from Azerbaijan. It is known that later, due to the unfavorable climate, the founders of the village moved to the present Hotamis district, which is the actual Taspinar neighborhood now. 

Taspinar is one of the oldest and most important centers of this weaving art. It is an economic and commercial city located on the roads connecting Adana to Ankara and Kayseri to Izmir. It is the place that produces essential works in the name of carpet making. 

Historical sources and travel books provide information about Aksaray carpets of the Seljuk period. Venetian Marco Polo, who came to Anatolia in 1271, wrote "The World’s best and most beautiful carpets are made here" in his travel book. Carpet weaving tradition continued in Aksaray during the Ottoman period. Information about the carpets in this region during the Ottoman period was explained by the English traveler WJ Hamilton’s travel book in 1837. Hamilton tells about the cultivation of root dye used in dyeing carpet yarn in Aksaray.

The Carpet Weaving and Repairing Workshop in Taspinar

In the Sultanhani District of Aksaray, where there is a weaving and repair workshop, old historical carpets from various places, domestic and abroad, were repaired by preserving their original state in the repair workshops called carpet hospital. According to what we learned from carpet repair masters, carpets were brought to the carpet repair workshops of Sultanhani Town by carpet makers from all over the world, mainly from Germany, England, Holland, and America, and from various regions of Turkey.

In Sultanhani, which is one of the best carpet repair shops in the world, at least one of every family was engaged in the carpet business. Young people started to work in carpet repair workshops at a young age and learned the intricacies of this profession from their masters. These carpet repair workshops made a significant contribution to the Sultanhani economy. 

It is one of the largest carpet repair centers in the world, where carpets from many countries are repaired and sent. At the beginning of these countries are countries such as America, England, France, and Italy. Today, the majority of the local people make a living from carpet restoration.

The Common Features of Taspinar Rugs

Due to the continental climate characteristics of Taspinar, large-scale animal husbandry is carried out, and the wool yarn is obtained. The mountainous region of the region and the richness of the plants enable the use of root dyes, especially madder and buckthorn, in yarn dyeing. Wool yarn and root dyeing have been influential in the development and maintenance of Taspinar carpets. Taspinar carpets take names such as “base (head), double mattress (cedar), cushion, prayer rug, pillow, saddlebag and saddle cover” according to their sizes and places of use.

The common feature of the carpets woven in Taspinar and the surrounding villages is that the raw material of the carpet is pure wool. The tradition of being wool in weft, warp, and knot threads has been meticulously preserved until today. In the region, wool is obtained by shearing from the sheep they raise. The women do all the necessary processes (washing, drying, sorting, cleaning, combing, classification) before the yarn is spun. One of the dyehouses where the wool yarns used in the weaving are dyed belongs to Ali İhsan Karaagac, a 66-year-old man who colors the threads of carpets and rugs with madder. He has been continuing his profession for nearly half a century. In his dyehouse, where he once dyed wool thread day and night with 15 workers, unfortunately, he continues to dye wool thread on order alone.

Root dyes obtained from plants grown in the region, especially madder, are used to color the yarns prepared in this way.

Taspinar carpets are described as good class and quality carpets. The average number of nodes in 1 dm² is 1750. Well, 40x45 nodes were detected in 1 dm2 area. However, there are 30x35 knots per 1 dm2 in carpets woven today.

The Use of Sample Rugs for Motifs and Patterns 

Taspinar carpets are woven by heart or by looking at the carpets that contain only motif samples, which were woven way before. “Sample rugs” are model rugs woven with a reported pattern of each motif and ¼ pattern of the core (medallion) applied on the floor. The weavers use sample rugs as pattern templates to remember the motif they will weave and avoid weaving mistakes.

Before 1950, bed rugs, cedar rugs, side rugs, prayer rugs, pillow rugs, saddlebag rugs, and saddlebag rugs were woven in Taspinar. Today, everything other than the prayer rug, pillow, and saddlebag carpet have been forgotten. The core part used in all weavings is divided into two as nail and white core.

According to the carpet type, the weavers select whether they will make “base (head), double mattress (cedar), cushion, prayer rug, pillow, saddlebag and saddle cover." In addition, they determine the number of skeins, prepares the warp, selects the color by looking at the sample rug. Finally, they weave the pattern by counting the number of knots from behind according to the pattern. 

At the same time, these carpets are also used as a color catalog as they show the colors used in local carpet motifs. Sample carpets do not have a specific composition; only motifs and color features are used in the region.

Most of these carpets are framed with border decorations called beads. 2-2.5 cm carpet rug is applied on the short sides, and wool weft edge knitting is used on the long sides. The borders of the motifs are sometimes apparent and sometimes intertwined. In the sample carpets, the local herbal decoration samples of Taspinar carpets were used intensively. 

The oldest motif that has survived to the present day in the carpets woven around Aksaray and in Taspinar is the "three core carpet" decoration.

The Local & Main Motifs in Taspinar Carpets

In particular, there are local motifs, which are woven with the Turkish knot technique, such as dog print or cat print, belt (staircase) chest, brick, grape corner, rose bead, the spiked belly, “hatayi" style vegetal forms, the base core, the anchor foot, the ladder foot, the sole foot, the apple foot, the bead head, the waving, the brick, and the bead are the most used motifs.

 

Patterns on the carpet surface are placed in beads, roses, feet, chests, waving, corners and cores from the outside to the inside. In the region, thick borders are called "foot," rectangular frame, "chest," columnar "waving," corner joints "tug," narrow waters in triangular corners "pain," medallion placed in the center of the composition is called "belly." 

When we look at the motif features, it is seen that mostly plant motifs, placed in geometrical order. It is understood that the plant motifs studied from nature are not only worked in accordance with the original feelings of the carpet weaver but also used the motifs by shaping them uniquely. 

The Common Colors Used in Taspinar Carpets

The most commonly used root dye plants are;

  • madder, 
  • oak leaf, 
  • acorn (pelite), 
  • walnut tree root, 
  • tree trunk shell and leaves
  • green walnut shell
  • vine leaves 
  • dried mountain plum 

The most commonly used colors are

  • dark red 
  • dark blue (Navy blue)
  • crimson (gray)
  • speedwells green (henna powder color)
  • cinnamon color
  • gray blue
  • plum thread (cream)
  • black 

In the dyeing process of wool, these colors are obtained through the following objects.

  • yellow (pale yellow) from vine leaves, 
  • green from rhinestone
  • yellowish-tetra from smoke tree 
  • yellowish-green from valonia oak  
  • gray from speedwells (veronica) plant, 
  • yellow and green from pomegranate peel

Although there is a beautiful tradition of root dyeing in Taspinar, it has been seen that synthetic dyed ready-made yarns are also used because the cost is cheaper and it provides convenience in production. However, the local authorities are making efforts to revitalize the root dyeing of Taspinar carpet yarns and ensure that root dyeing can be sustained.

The Magical Ways to Stabilize and Keep the Colors Shiny

The most crucial feature of Taspinar carpets is that they are weaving with wool collected from Hasandagi and dyed with the material that the local people call “Sey stone” (black stone). “Sey stone” prevents the yarn collected from the skirts of Hasandagi from fading and keeps it shiny. This stone is boiled in cauldrons with other root dyes and rock salt to dye yarn.

The most common color stabilizers used with natural dyestuffs are alum, table salt, oak wood ash, charcoal (iron sulfate), and pickle juice.

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