Kilim. The word, pronounced “ki-LEEM,” conjures visions of exotic nations and tribal traditions, and that’s pretty close to the truth. These handwoven rugs, with their intricate designs and characteristic flat weave, were born thousands of years back in the fields of Turkey (where the best-known kilims include), Kurdistan, Caucasus, Iran and Turkestan. The regional variations, each with its own cultural traditions and symbolism, led to differences in the colours and themes used for the textiles.
Kilims often get lumped in with their Asian and Persian cousins, however, they have a different history and fashion of their own. In technical terms, the most important distinction is the weaving method: Carpets have individually knotted strands bound by wefts to shape the pile, whereas kilims are created by interweaving warps and wefts in an upright loom to create a flat, often reversible design with no pile.
Jenn Hannotte / Hannotte Interiors
Clear as mud? Here’s the takeaway: The flat weave makes kilims light yet sturdy so they can withstand foot traffic better than a traditional rug. And because they’re simpler to create, their price has historically been reduced, though that’s changing as kilims increase in popularity.
Nomadic peoples in these areas crafted kilims in the wool of their sheep they herded and used them in a variety of roles: tent floors, coverlets, screens, sacks, pillows and more. Although kilims for decades were overlooked in favor of pricey Asian and Persian carpets, they’ve caught fire with collectors and homeowners, and they’re moving very quickly from trend to mainstay.
Though kilims are ordinarily used as floor coverings, they’re also common in more decorative uses, such as wall hangings or seat upholstery. In this bedroom, a kilim wraps an easy headboard, echoing its partner on the floor. Often, worn or partly disintegrated kilims may be salvaged to work with for smaller pieces, such as throw cushions or seat chairs.
Wish to Inspire
Kilims feature a geometric pattern sometimes complex. That is one reason that they transition so readily from traditional interiors to more contemporary ones: They combine a surprisingly contemporary sensibility with an old-world mien.
Ten June Designs
Since the dyes used for the wool initially came from natural resources, earthy colours — particularly red — are the principle. However, some kilims, particularly newer ones, have a much more limited palette.
Medallions, diamond octagons and shapes appear in several versions. Antique kilim patterns often have special meaning or symbolism, depending upon the rug’s country of origin.
Blackburn Architects, PC
It is not possible to replicate the patina and gravitas of a classic kilim, but recently crafted versions have the same richness of colour and are often less expensive. Locate a respectable dealer in your area who can direct you toward the best purchase for your requirements and price range.
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