Historic carpets gains a new face in Turkish town
AKSARAY - Anatolia News Agency
Mostly men are working in the carpet restoration ateliers in Sultanhanı, a world renowned place among carpet dealers in the world. AA Photo
In the Sultanhanı district of the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray, where historical carpets from around the world are repaired, an expert of the business describes his job by saying: “We perform a face transplant on the carpet.”
A significant part of Sultanhanı’s population work in carpet restoration ateliers. It is mostly men who work in these ateliers, and carpet restoration can take many months as it is often painstaking work.
The owner of the Sultanhanı Atelier, Fahri Solak, said it had become the world’s most important carpet restoration center thanks to its experience and quality. Nearly 1,500 people are working in 30 ateliers across Sultanhanı. “Carpets are our fathers’ business. Around 3,000 to 4,000 people know how to do it in the district, which has a population of 11,000 people. The restoration quality was low at first, but now everyone is doing the job professionally. We are the world’s most important carpet restoration center. For example, if you ask a carpet seller in the U.S. they know Sultanhanı very well, but not the wider province of Aksaray. The name of the district is definitely mentioned in carpet catalogues,” Solak said.
’Face transplantation to carpet’
He added that carpet masters were trained in ateliers from a young age. “I began restoration with my father when I finished primary school. It is a very difficult job, it requires complete attention, more than weaving a carpet. At least seven years of working is necessary to become professional. Doctors perform face transplants, and we are performing transplants on carpets using old carpet and kilim pieces. It is an expensive method, but it increases the quality of the restoration. Very professional people can understand our restoration when they look at a carpet under light. This is why the world prefers Sultanhanı in the restoration of antique carpets.”
Solak said carpet restoration was also available abroad, but that Iranians worked on Iranian carpets only. “We can restore all types of carpets using their same type: Caucasus carpets, Iranan carpets, Uşak carpets, Anatolian kilims, French kilims, and any others.”
He added that for the last six months they had been working on a carpet from a chateau in Britain. “It is an 18th century Uşak carpet and was weaved in Turkey upon order. It has Ottoman motifs and we completed the restoration to make it like its original.”
Solak said they also restored the carpets in Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace. “It is an honor for us to restore carpets on which the Ottoman sultans and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk walked. We did such a job in 2005, when we received 120 carpets from the palace for restoration. The work was displayed in 2007 at the International Ancient Carpets Fair and drew great interest.”