Kilim & Flatweave Rugs
Do you know what a kilim is? Or how it differs from a carpet, moquette, or other floor coverings?
A kilim is a thin handwoven floor covering that, unlike a carpet, doesn’t have lint. Woven together on a rug loom, the kilim warp is made from goat or sheep wool, cotton, and, sometimes, silk, while the weft is made of dyed animal down or wool.
A very old craft, kilim weaving has been practiced historically by every woman in nomadic tribes and villages. Thanks to their decorative quality, kilims have now found greater popularity around the world. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the history of the kilim and learn about its various types.
History of kilim rugs weaving
In prehistoric times, humans used the pelt of hunted animals as ground covering or clothing. Later, when animal husbandry gradually became common practice, they learned to make yarn by spinning the wool from domesticated animals and began weaving the first kilims. The craft soon became widespread among different tribes. Today, kilims come in various sizes and are adorned with different motifs and patterns, and can be used as decoration in interior design.
Although it’s not certain where kilims first appeared, archaeological studies and evidence show that people inhabiting the Iranian Plateau and the neighboring regions were first to weave kilims. Also, evidence from caves southeast of the Caspian Sea indicates that people in the region practiced animal husbandry and span sheep wool about 8,000 years ago.
This evidence includes an 8,000-year-old textile fragment woven from goat hair, found near the Caspian Sea, and a 6,000-year-old cotton textile discovered in Susa.
How do kilims and carpets differ?
Carpets and kilims differ in size and weave, with kilims often being smaller. Because kilims were originally made by nomads to cover the ground within their tents, kilim sizes have developed in proportion to the size of nomadic tents.
Kilims have a much longer history than carpets and rugs; in fact, rugs and carpets came later as kilim weaving evolved.
Another difference is the colors and patterns. Carpets, whether handmade or machine-made, are woven according to a technical drawing, which specifies the colors along with the design. On the other hand, a kilim’s design and patterns are determined by the region it’s made in, which sets it apart from those from other regions.
Different type of Kilim weaves
There are four types of kilims in terms of weave:
- Plain-weave kilims: Also known as double-sided and flat, plain-weave kilims involve the technique called “picking” in their weaving process. These kilims are thinner than the other types, have identical designs on both sides, and can be used with either side up. Consisting only of warp and weft strands, some of the kilims that fall under this category are the Senah and Bijar, from Kurdistan Province, Iran; Qashqai; Semnan; Zanjan; and Ardabil.
- Charkhiweave kilims: Kilims of this type are made using a loom with four components known individually as Kaju. Each Kaju in the Charkhi loom is moved by a set of bows. In the Charkhi weaving process, the weft passes through all the warp strands, resulting in a uniform weave. A Charkhi-weave kilim has nonmatching sides because its surplus weft threads are drawn over the back, strengthening and thickening the kilim.
- Jajim-weave kilims: The loom used to make Jajim-weave kilims also has four Kajus and multiple bows. The main difference between these kilims and the other types is that the Jajim warp is also colored. In the other weaves, only the weft makes the design appear, whereas, in the Jajim weave, the weft and the warp do that together. Moreover, Jajim kilims and plain kilims are similar in that they both have identical sides.
- Needle/Sumak kilims: The loom used to make sumāk kilims has a single Kaju and roughly resembles the plain-weave loom. The surplus weft threads in this type of kilims are left freely on the back, making only one side usable. Delicate and adorned with floral motifs, Sumak kilims were traditionally woven mostly by the peoples of the Caucasus, but since the 20th century, they have been being made also in Turkey and Iran.
Persian kilims are very diverse, with every region in Iran producing kilims of distinct designs and characteristics. Some of the regional Persian kilims are the Qashqai, Harsin, Shahsavan, Baloch, Fars, Lori, Zarand, Kurdistan, Khamseh, and Mazandaran.
a portion of Iranian kilims is exported to Asian and European countries, as well as Canada and the US. Cyruscrafts is working to bring further international exposure to Iran’s rich art and culture by introducing and selling various Persian handicrafts, including exquisite and outstanding kilims made by Iranian artists.
The most frequent colors in kilims are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and beige. For the most part, a kilim’s design and colors are determined by personal preference and creativity, as no rules are dictating how to use colors in kilims. That’s why they say “every kilim reflects the taste and character of its maker”!
Today, kilims are made in the form of not just floor coverings for rooms and hallways, but also prayer rugs, tablecloths, bags, and such. Bearing gorgeous and interesting designs, kilims can therefore be used also as a decoration in different environments, such as homes, as well as Persian traditional restaurants and teahouses.
If you’re looking to check out and buy kilims, we’d recommend visiting our website, Cyruscrafts.
Cyruscrafts specializes in the supply, sale, and export of the finest Persian kilims. We bring you high-class, one-of-a-kind products that will liven up and individualize your home or workplace.