Ultimate Guide to Yoruk Rugs

History of Yoruks and Yoruk Rugs

Nomads used goat wool to set up their tents to protect themselves from adverse weather conditions during their migration. Goat wool is much longer and tighter than sheep wool. Nomads used the flat weaving technique for the first time in this sense, and the development of weaving started in this way.

Weaving, which entered Anatolia through the Turkmen and Yoruk tribes who migrated from Asia, has continued its existence with different types of weaving until today. With this beginning, their carpets and weaving techniques have become essential in our country and the world. 

Nomads are Turkish communities that have lived their lives following the horse-nomadic Turkish culture longer than many other Turkish communities and have lived close to the settled order (although some continue to do so). Women have an important place in the life of these people. With motifs assertively created by nomadic Turkish girls, Carpets and kilims are light in weight but fill a sack.

Yoruks represent a tremendous spiritual culture in unexpected places on remote mountain tops. In Anatolian legends, the carpet does not fly but is tongued. Carpet weaving is based on a practical reason, such as the desire of a nomadic tribe to find a thicker and warmer floor among Turks.

During the Ottoman period, traditional carpet weaving in Anatolia was done by Turkmen and Yoruks. In the last period of the Ottoman Empire, the masters and patterns brought from Iran and England to produce carpets, and the creators of our traditional carpet making, were rendered unskilled and made cheap carpet workers. As a result, carpet art has been shaken to its foundations. At the end of the Ottoman period, traditional carpet weaving was considered a worthless and cheap business done by simple Turkmen and Yoruk people.

The nomads were called by their old names as well as taking the name of the regions they lived in Anatolia or Rumelia. Thus, for example, some of the Anatolian Yoruks mentioned in the documents are as follows. Icel Yoruks, Alaiye Yoruks, Tekeli Yoruks, Bursa Yoruks.

Today, nomads are generally people who live in the Southern Aegean and the Mediterranean. The carpets they weave are the continuation of the carpets that emerged and appreciated after the Turks settled in Anatolia. Since then, they have never again lost their original beauty, character, and quality. 

The classification of Yoruk carpets can be made according to which tribe weaves them and hence referred to by different names. 

  • Yagcibedir Carpets

  • Doseme-Alti Antalya Carpets

  • Yunt Mountain Carpets

  • Ayvacik (Canakkale) Carpets


    The Main Materials Used in Yoruk Rugs

    All Yoruk rugs are hand-woven with wool. For instance, the beginning and end edges of the Yunt Mountain carpets wool are used in the wefts and warps and are woven with loose rug texture. In addition, there are no chemicals in these carpets, which can be understood since the colors of the carpet do not fade, and this makes the carpets shine brightly even after ten years. 

    Antalya- Dosemealti carpets, which carry the basic features of carpets that we can name as Yoruk carpets today, are made in every house. Hence, a carpet school was established within the Ayvacik District Governorship to maintain the originality and quality of this vital element of the Yoruk culture and make the best use of the manufacturer's labor. The carpets of this school, 100% of which are woven using madder and kirmani yarn (hand-spinning), attract significant attention in the domestic and foreign markets, which is also a touristic characteristic of this region. 

    As it was mentioned earlier, the knots per square meter of these carpets are highly essential, and in Antalya-Dosemealti carpets, there are 160,000 knots per square meter of these carpets.

    For example, among the weavings made in the villages where Tekeli nomads lived, there are carpets and flat-woven mats (rug, cicim, zili, sumak) according to the examples that have survived to the present day. Examples of rugs, cicim, and zili can be seen on flat-woven mats in Zeytinkoy. Each of them is decorated with its patterns, and there are varieties. However, interestingly, weavings with carpet technique are very rare in this specific region. It is said that plain woven mats are less woven since they are considered more valuable than carpets, and it is hard to carry carpets when going to a mountain house. Existing examples of this Yoruk are mostly pillow and saddlebag carpet types. Pillow rugs are small in size. It usually measures 50 x 66 cm. Saddlebag carpets are double-eyed and usually have saddlery (leather) edges. 

    The Common Motifs Found in Yoruk Rugs

    Motifs, in general, can be described as "an ornamental element in all weavings such as carpets or rugs.” The motifs used in Turkish carpets until today are found in 5 forms. When we examine the nomadic carpets, we see that all five forms of motifs are used. 

    1.  Naturally 
    2. Geometrically 
    3. Schematic 
    4. Stylized 
    5. Ideally

    When nomads weave their carpets, they normally use symbols from their daily lives. As an example, the scorpion is the most popular pattern as it expresses their freedom. On the other hand, the camel's foot symbolizes transportation. The migrations of the Yoruks from the depths of Central Asia to the westernmost tip of Asia and the geography, climate, and good or bad aspects of life continue to live in knotty carpet and rug patterns thanks to the deft fingers of the Yoruk women. 

    Motif Features of Yoruk Carpets 

    •  Traditionality: It is a traditional art that has lived for centuries since Central Asia and has similar characteristics.
    • Anonymity: Art in the nomads is the common property of the society. Weavings are known as Yoruk work, not on behalf of individuals. Art is intertwined with life since art is an integral part of daily life in the nomads. In the nomadic tent, each weaving has separate motifs. Therefore, Yoruk carpets get patterns according to their stories and names according to their patterns, which makes the Yoruk art very unique, since they do not imitate anything. Plant and animal forms taken from nature are stylized. Belts, and rugs, sometimes seem to tell a story. In this way, we can understand that Yoruk art is not for making money.
    • Ottoman period: In the Ottoman Empire period, the spread of the patterns prepared by the miniature artists of the palace to Anatolia, and the emergence of some new motifs in line with the demands from abroad in the last period of the Ottoman Empire, had a slight influence on the Yoruk carpets.

    The most well-known motifs are,

    • Crane 
    • Arrow
    • Zucchini flower
    • Sieve
    • Gold plate
    • Tree of life
    • Turkmen rose
    • Green knot
    • Baratlı
    • Old Yoruk 

    In Anatolia, there are also patterns such as eye, rose, scatter rose, flower. For example, the eye reflects the protection against evil, which is usually blue. In addition, the cocklebur is a cottony plant that sticks to the clothes of people and the fur of animals. It is believed that he is capable of warding off the evil gaze. On the other hand, the expression "like a cocklebur," meaning full of flowers, explains the use of this motif on flour bags as a symbol of abundance. 

    Moreover, when weaving Antalya-Dosemealti carpets, the weavers usually use symbols from their daily lives. As an example, the scorpion is the most popular pattern as it expresses their freedom. On the other hand, camel's feet symbolize transportation.

    The Prominent Colors Found in Yoruk Rugs

    The prominent colors of root dye were used in Antique Yoruk carpets. Roots, bark, branches, stems, leaves, fruits, seeds, and flowers of plants are used to produce root dye. No synthetic material is used in the production of root dye. 

    We can examine the plants used to make paint in two groups, the ones that grow in our country and those that grow in the tropics. There are a lot of root crops grown in our country. Examples of these are Spicy Cehre, indigo, Dyer's alkanet, dried onion peel. At the same time, these are the most preferred plants. Colors that are obtained mostly from root dyes are mainly dark blue, red, green, white, and blue. For example, when it is said that the primary colors of root dye are used on a carpet, it is meant the hanks that enter the dye first. It is seen that the last freckles are more than the previous ones, and the freckles after that are even lighter. Thus, intermediate colors are obtained. While the brightest and darkest red is received in the skeins that enter the dye first, it can range up to pink tones by color by using the skeins that enter the dye later. The lighter colors used in the carpets are the colors obtained by soaking 2 and 3 water.

    In Yoruk carpets, the presence of a brave inner world that likes to live is read in the selection and juxtaposition of colors. Every color has a meaning. Red color friendship, love; blue hope; green separation; yellow expresses the evil eye.

    The production of root dyes used in coloring has passed from generation to generation, but synthetic dyes have replaced some plant dyes that have been forgotten in recent years.

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