Ultimate Guide to Kayseri Rugs

Where is Kayseri?

Kayseri is located where the southern part of Central Anatolia and the Taurus Mountains converge. It has a history of 6000 years and is Turkey's 16th largest city. This city, which was the home of billions of people during the Byzantine, Anatolian Seljuk State, Anatolian principalities, Ottoman Empire, and the Republic, has a vibrant and extensive culture. It is one of the most important centers of weaving art. If you would like to know more about this amazing regional rug culture, we recommend you keep on reading. 

The History and the Types of Kayseri Rugs

Carpets woven in and around Kayseri constitute an essential part of Turkish rug art. Kayseri carpets have two types, which are “Bunyan” and “Yahyali” carpets. These carpets are works that are possible to see the development of the art of carpet weaving in terms of maintaining traditional motifs as well as their delicacy. The warp of the Bunyan carpet is cotton, and its texture is wool and flush. Usually, natural colors, white, black, gray, purple, are used. The base of it is commonly in shades of red, blue, and navy blue. Mattresses, pillows, floors, cedar carpets are classified according to their size. 

The most important feature that distinguishes Yahyali carpets from Bunyan carpets is that both the warp and the weaving thread are wool. The use of geometric motifs and flower motifs and the coloration of the threads entirely with madder is another characteristic of Yahyali carpets. Yahyali carpets are classified according to their pattern features as arched, cored, mihrab, dabali and inner core. Borders can be 3 or 4. The patterns of Yahyali carpets, in which geometric motifs are used, date back to the 16th century. However, it is understood that it dates back to the beginning.

Kayseri rugs, which increase in value as they are used, are woven very widely. Although the rugs of this region have the same characteristics as most of the rugs woven in Anatolia, they have a unique structure. The motifs used are similar to the motifs used in tile, marble, carving, and even illumination. However, as a requirement of the weaving technique used in the rug, the motifs have turned into an angular geometric form. When we look at other local, regional rugs, it is impossible not to be amazed by the patience and skills of the weavers. Rugs woven as spreads, curtains, and sacks are then named according to the place they are used. The famous Sariz and Yahyali rugs of the Kayseri region are called Cubuklu, Ibikli, Papatyalı, Nalcali, Sandikli, Kırkbudak, Kalayci, Yusuflar, Yoruk and Avsar rugs.

Bunyan Rugs

Bunyan is a district of Kayseri, and then making a name for itself in carpet weaving begins with the growth of Bunyan as a place that people start to live. It is not known precisely when the Turks came to Bunyan. However, both in Kayseri and Bunyan, the name of the places indicate that Cuman (Kipchak), Caspian, Saka, and Uz Turks were settled in this region much earlier than 1071. After the 1071 Malazgirt victory, this region was conquered by Mehmet Gumustekin Gazi in 1086 and connected to the Danismentli Principality and became Turkish.

Bunyan carpets have unique motifs. With the increase in population in the 18th and 19th centuries, carpet production has also increased. Rug and silk carpet weaving were also done together in woolen carpets in Bunyan. The real breakthrough of the Bunyan carpet business was realized in the years 1914-1916 in the 20th century. These days, kilim looms were made suitable for carpet weaving, and rug and silk carpet weaving disappeared. The use of root dye continued for a short time, but as the Bunyan Carpet Yarn Factory was established in 1926, it too became history.

In Bunyan carpets, the base consists of two parts. The first part is where the columns are located, and the second part is the interior. Thus, there is harmony between both parts. Borders used in carpets vary by Konya’s location and region. In some areas, the borders have three rows, while in some areas, there are 7-8 rows.

The basis of the Bunyan carpet business is of Central Asian origin, and it has completed its development phase with the difficulties of the changes in the cultural, economic, and social structure in Anatolia over time. From 1908 to 1909, fabricated wool yarn was dyed with artificial dyes. Hence, cotton yarn began to be used as material in Bunyan carpets. 

The motifs used in the carpets of this period are mostly geometric-based motifs, which are generally expressed as arrangements. For example, the multi-motif arrangement, skip arrangement, and centralized arrangement. In addition to this, there are also arrangements consisting of the repetition of a motif in time. It is possible to divide the carpets woven in this period into four groups. 

  • Carpets are woven from yarns made by hand and dyed with natural dyes. 
  • Carpets, which are made of Manchester wool yarn, are dyed with synthetic dyes. 
  • Carpets made of undyed sheep wool (Paturel and mainland)
  • Carpets made of Bursa silk (Silk carpets).

Carpets from 6 m2 to 12 m2 are called floor carpets. Bunyan carpets can be examined in 3 groups in terms of their motif type.

      1 . Flowers 

  • Fine-flowered  
  • Large-flowered (Almond and Farahan). 

      2 . Geometric motifs: These are old historical motifs such as Kazan (Sandıklı), Şirvan, Buhara Ladik

      3 . Gozekli: Their names are Kazan Lalezar, Hayali grape. 

 There is an average of 16-30 loops per cm2 on Bunyan carpets. As the number of loops per cm2 of the carpet increase, the quality increases as well, since when the number of carpet threads increases (2.5 – 3.75 nim), the thread gets thinner. cm2 since the loop 16 (nodes) which carpets num warp 20 cm2 since the loop 30 in the warp num carpet 30 used.

Red color, known as the Turks' favorite color, is used a lot in Bunyan carpets. It is a symbol of wealth and nobility, which has led to the frequent use of this color. After red, the colors yellow, blue, green, black, and white are used mainly. 

Yahyali Rugs 

Yahyali carpets are among the warmest and darkest colors of all Anatolian carpets, such as dark green, dark red, claret red, dark blue, indigo blue, and brown. The main reason for this is that the region has a very harsh continental climate, and the plants that make up the essence of the root dyes used are also abundant in the region's soils. On the other hand, Yahyali carpets have distinguished themselves with their richness and striking symmetrical images, in which original motifs are displayed. First, this quality wool sheared from animals is thoroughly washed, dried, and passed through specially made combs. Then, to turn the wool into a rope, the Kirman and spinning wheel techniques are applied, which has come from beyond the centuries.

Warps, wefts, and loops of Yahyali carpets are entirely wool. One of its most eye-catching qualities is the silk-like shine of the wool, and this shine becomes more pronounced as the carpet wears and washes over the years. Today, among Yahyali carpets, 100% root dye is used for the carpets called "Öz Yahyali" and at least 70% for other carpets. The red color of the carpets, carefully woven by Yahyali women on more than two thousand looms today, is obtained from the root of the plant, which the local people call "painted chili," which grows steppes of Central Anatolia extensively. Brown tones are obtained from walnut shells and leaves, and ash gray is obtained from stinking slime mud.

In addition to the carpets woven for commercial purposes in this region, women also wove for their own homes. Therefore, these rugs are as valuable as the other ones. Carpets laid in the rooms, which are a source of pride for almost every family, are one of the essential elements that showcase the skills of the women in that house. In particular, the colors and motifs on these carpets, woven by the late girls for their dowry chests, display an extraordinary appeal. Carnation, poppy, and rose motifs, which are among the motifs specific to the region, symbolize love, loyalty, and love.

Yahyali carpets, according to the pattern features, are classified as 

  • Arched
  • Hubli 
  • Mihrab 
  • Dabazli
  • Inner core

Borders can be 3 or 4. It is understood that the patterns of Yahyali carpets, in which geometric motifs are used, date back to the beginning of the 16th century.

The earring motif, which adorns the coin in the navel in its wide form, is a marriage of desires to establish a happy home; the dove symbolizes the desire to be protected from possible evil. Also, the ram's horn symbolizes staying strong, healthy, and fertile. Among the Anatolian carpets, one of the original motifs seen only in Yahyali dowry carpets is the stylized village compositions on which young girls weave their carpets on the borders, stretching across the carpet's borders like a painting or a comic book. The young girl draws the house she wants to symbolize, the neighbors' houses, the village fountain and mosque, and the trees by weaving them side by side. The young girl expresses her wishes of happiness and abundance to her village and family with these motifs she weaves on her carpet. 

Kayseri Silk Rugs 

It is silk woven on silk and is woven with 7x7: 49 or 8x8: 64 weaving techniques in cm2. Since 100% chemical dyeing techniques are applied, the color combinations are very high. Pattern designs were used in Anatolia, and they are vibrant as they include all patterns. The most woven pattern consists of a tree of life motifs. Bird motifs are made between the pattern, although they are not used much. Since it is a difficult carpet to weave, its production is minimal. Kayseri silk carpets with 700,000 to 1,000,000 knots in 1m2 attract great attention in foreign markets. 70% of production is based on exports. Carpets woven in various regions in our country have their unique quality, pattern, material, knot technique, pile height. The Turkish Standards Institute has brought specific standards for each local carpet, considering the local characteristics.

The Importance of Kayseri Carpets to Turkey

Carpets woven in and around Kayseri constitute an essential part of Turkish rug artistry. Kayseri carpets have an important and unique place in Turkey regarding their color, pattern, and weaving features. The carpets made in the past are currently exhibited in various museums since each of their texture and unique pattern creates a separate work of art.

The place and importance of Kayseri rugs in the world that have survived from the 18th-19th centuries have been closely followed by the world and have become famous quickly. Pattern and color features, knot density, and the beautiful appearance of Bunyan and Yahyali carpets attract attention outside of our country. As a result, carpet weaving in Bunyan and Yahyali continues today. 

Contribution of Kayseri Rugs to the Turkish Economy

Bunyan carpets, which have a well-deserved reputation in foreign markets, continue to be woven on carpet looms in almost every house as a tradition of years. The silk required for the carpet is obtained from Oushak and dyed in Kayseri. Carpet weaving girls in Bunyan, which looks like a carpet factory, finish 6 square meters of carpet in 30-35 days. The carpets woven carry traditional motifs called "fine flowers, wheat, grapes, spinner, eyelashes." The warp of Bunyan carpets woven with Gordes knot is made of cotton yarn. Bunyan carpets, which are bought with admiration, continue to contribute to the country's economy.

Yahyali rugs are one of the most famous hand-made carpets produced in our country. Yahyali carpets are known and marketed all over Turkey and especially in Europe. Although carpet weaving is one of the essential elements in the economy of the district (Yahyali), the continuation of economic crises, the increase in raw material and labor costs, the rise in machine carpets, and the fact that machine carpets are cheaper than hand-made carpets have caused a rapid decrease in the production of Yahyali carpets. For this reason, the number of carpet looms in almost every house in the district (in Yahyali) has decreased by 75%.

Yahyali carpets are known for being 100% wool, natural dyes (root dye) in dyeing, the frequency of the number of stitches, and their patterns. Mud, vine leaves, walnut shells, walnut leaves, buckthorn, and many similar natural materials are used in carpet yarn dyeing. It is not possible to find these dyes in any other hand-made carpets.

As it was indicated earlier, one of the unique features of these carpets is that their value increases as they age. It is a value that is not defeated financially by inflation Yahyali carpet. The m2 unit price of Yahyali carpet varies according to the frequency of the number of stitches and the smoothness of the weaving. Carpets have a comfortable use as an exhibition. 

In Yahyali, carpets can be purchased from the carpet shops, which are usually set up on Thursdays and Fridays, and from the shopkeepers in the district who sell carpets, even from houses. Therefore, it is possible to see and buy Yahyali carpets, especially the tradesmen who sell carpets in our big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bodrum, Antalya, and in tourist resorts such as Cappadocia.

Common Colors Used in Kayseri Bunyan Rugs 

The colors used in carpets are significant. Natural root dyes used to obtain these colors and various foreign materials have ensured that the carpets remain bright and vivid for a long time. One thing that draws attention to the colors used in the motifs is the use of red color. The color red, known as the favorite color of the species, symbolizes wealth and nobility, which has led to this color being used a lot.

After the red color, yellow, blue, green, black, and white colors were also used predominantly. Carpets produced with natural dyes are alive, durable, and useful for many years than those made with synthetic dyes. Natural dye is obtained by utilizing the dyestuffs contained in various plants and insects in nature.

There are many plants with dyestuffs in nature. However, plants and other living substances that give vivid colors and provide a degree of fastness to light, water, and washing are the most valuable. Their number is not many. Such creatures have been specially bred in the past years and have become an important trading commodity between countries. During the Ottoman period, Bunyan was grown in private gardens and exported.

Common Colors Used in Kayseri Yahyali Rugs

Yahyali carpets are famous among Anatolian carpets with their dark and warm colors.

  • Dark green
  • Dark red
  • Claret red 
  • Navy blue
  • Indigo blue
  • The warmest and darkest colors like brown.

The reasons for using these colors are a region with a highly harsh continental climate. In addition, the plants that make up the essence of the root dyes used are also abundant in the soil of the region.

Main Motifs and Patterns Used in Bunyan Rugs

It is understood from the fiction findings that Central Asian Turkish tribes generally use animal motifs, horse motifs, decorations in which animals are shown fighting, arrows, bows, spears, and similar tools that they use as war tools. Thus, it is of origin and has completed its development phase with the forcing of cultural, economic, and social structure in Anatolia over time. The motifs used in the Bunyan carpets of this period (from 1908-1909) are geometric-based, generally expressed as arrangements.

Main Motifs and Patterns Used in Yahyali Rugs 

Yahyali carpets have distinguished themselves with their richness and symmetrical images of the eye, in which original motifs are displayed. The colors and motifs on these carpets, which young girls carefully weave for dowry chests in Yahyali, exhibit an extraordinary appeal. Carnation, poppy, and rose motifs, which are unique to the region, symbolize love, loyalty, and love. The earring motif, which adorns the coin in the navel, expresses the wish to build a happy home. The dovetail motif represents the desire to be protected from possible evils. symbolizes staying healthy and abundance.

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