Why are Turkish Rugs Expensive?

The average cost of a rug can vary, but it’s usually relatively high. Of course, some models are fakes, pale imitations, or mass-produced items of low value. However, an authentic Turkish rug is indeed worth every penny.

But why is that so? Why is a Turkish rug so pricey? Well, there are plenty of reasons behind the price, and we’re here to cover the most important ones. In this article, we will go over why rugs from Turkey have such a high price tag. Hopefully, it will help our readers decide whether or not they want one of these vibrant colored rugs or neutral rugs in their home and if they’re willing to foot the bill for one. 

All-Natural Materials

If we spot artificial materials like polyester in the rug we want to buy, it’s a red flag. Sadly, with weaving technology constantly developing, anyone can make a rug or a carpet and claim that it’s ‘authentic’ and ‘handmade’. We will cover the handmade nature of Turkish rugs a little later. For now, let’s focus on materials. 

Traditionally, the four types of Turkish rugs, known as the Hah, Kilim, Cicim, and Sumak, are made from one of three different materials. Said materials are:

  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Wool

The price will depend on what the rug itself is made of. Generally speaking, the most expensive carpets are the ones made entirely out of silk. After all, silk has a particular sheen to it, quite different from cotton or wool. That gives the rug a whole new quality that other materials can’t match.

Of course, there are other factors to consider as well. For example, an all-natural rug will still ‘feel’ unnatural if it is machine-spun. Furthermore, the artisan also has to use natural dyes, not chemical ones. They usually achieve that by picking local herbs and plants and crushing them until they get the color they need. These dyes last longer than chemical ones, plus they don’t fade away or come off during a wash as easily. 

Steeped in History

Turkey is a Euroasian country, with the biggest part being in Asia Minor, encompassing the historic Anatolia region. For several millennia, Anatolia had been home to some of the best carpet and rug weavers ever. In the early days, these men and women would weave rugs purely for protection against the elements. After all, a good, thick rug would keep a person warm during cold winter nights, as well as protect them from harsh sunlight. However, as is the case with all things, the craft of weaving turned into an art form. All of a sudden, the master weavers didn’t simply make rugs out of necessity. They were now making art pieces that people could place on their furniture or hang on their walls. And with traditions as long as the ones in Anatolia, we know we’re getting a dash of history with each authentic rug.

Of course, what counts as historic when it comes to the Turkish rug?

A good rule of thumb is any rug made during or before the 1970s is a masterpiece. Most of the new rugs simply don’t have a story behind them. They are most likely mass-produced or contain artificial low-quality materials. Furthermore, if the rug happens to have a history behind it, the merchant should know it. They should know precisely who the weaver is, where they made the rug, and when they did so.  

Handmade Wonders

Generally speaking, a handmade item usually tends to have an extremely high value among collectors, which is especially true for Turkish rugs and carpets. A single carpet made by a master weaver can take at least a month to be completed. Some rugs can even take well over a year! And naturally, the longer it takes the weaver to make the rug, the more expensive the final product will be.

The length of time weavers need to complete a rug will depend on several factors. Those include:

  • The size of the rug
  • Types of materials used (which we covered a little earlier)
  • The number of knots per 1 sq inch
  • Types of knots used
  • The tightness of each knot
  • The intricacy of the design.

More often than not, the kilims, cicims, and sumaks don’t have any knots, which is why they end up being so light and thin. On the other hand, Hahs are double-knotted, making them thicker and more rigid in terms of texture than the other three. However, no matter what type of rug we are buying, we should always get one with a greater weave density. Such rugs are usually of better quality and don’t succumb to wear and tear easily.

To learn more, we suggest reading our article on how to tell if a rug is handmade.

Artistry and Symbolism

Weavers of rugs in Turkey are traditionally female, and every single authentic rug has a bit of a personal story behind it. But, of course, what that story contains is something we have to infer from the rug’s many symbols. 

Turkish weavers tend to use various signs and geometric shapes to add a bit of personal touch to their rugs. 

Most Common Symbols on Turkish Carpets

  • Hands-on hips (indicating fertility and motherhood)
  • Ram’s horns (heroism, masculinity, and power)
  • Hairband (usually signals that a woman is ready for marriage or is just married)
  • Earrings (expressing a woman’s desire to get married soon)
  • Fetter (continuity of the family union)
  • Trousseau chest (expressing the desire to have a child)
  • Yin-yang (marital unity; while the symbol does remind us of a yin-yang, its actual Turkish name is Ask ve Birlesim)
  • Star (happiness)
  • Eye (a ward against bad luck)
  • Dragon (usually representing the heavens)
  • Wolf’s mouth or wolf’s tracks (a ward against wolves; most Anatolian weavers come from nomadic cattle herders)
  • Tree of life (life after death)
  • Birds (depending on the bird depicted, it can either mean bad or good luck).

In addition to these and many other symbols, the Turkish weavers also frequently leave individual family signs. Entire tribes even had their own collective signs that they would often depict on tombstones, important buildings, and tapestries. It’s a kind of artistic signature that every authentic rug has.  

Turkish Rugs: Final Thoughts

As you can see, authentic Turkish rugs have a lot going for them. And we are not exaggerating when we claim that they are incredibly expensive. Some of the rarest rugs can sell for well over $1 million. Furthermore, their value will only increase in the coming years. In other words, buying a rug now will be an excellent future investment that can see the owner doubling or even tripling the money they spent on their woven masterpiece.

And indeed, these rugs are masterpieces. With that in mind, it’s important not to look at them as simple floor coverings or decorative wall items. They are genuine, stunning works of art, similar to Renaissance paintings or Greek statues. And in terms of their history and the skill of their creators, in many different ways, they are priceless.

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