Exquisite 'postmortem rugs' brought under care
Tens of thousands of hand-woven “postmortem rugs” - some centuries old - were collected by government officials across Turkey for maintenance and classification to be transferred to the coming generations.
In a common Anatolian tradition, young girls weave rugs as part of their dowry for their life with their future spouse, to be donated to a mosque upon their death.
These masterpieces are believed to provide good deeds for the weaver every time a daily a prayer is performed at the mosque.
In a campaign spearheaded by Turkey’s General Directorate for Foundations, the names of the weavers as well as the weaving date, dating as far back as the 17th century, are determined and archived in both Turkish and Arabic.
More than 30,000 carpets and rugs, collected since 2006, have been brought to a warehouse where they are washed with special machines and classified by art historians.
Zafer Gülbahar, a museum researcher, told Anadolu Agency that thousands of rugs donated to the mosques needed care after years of wear and tear.
Gülbahar said the rugs were among the most common items donated to mosques.
“The rugs are donated in various ways. The first comprise of exquisite pieces ordered by those who are financially able to have the mosque built and donated. The second are from those who are not able to build a mosque but donate what they can afford.
“Another way is what we call postmortem rugs, which is a highly common and rooted custom in Anatolia.”
The rugs are labeled according to their date and weaver. The age of the rugs is tracked by radio frequency equipment, Gülbahar said.
“This technique is not common across the country, but it is used as a pilot system by the General Directorate for Foundations,” he added.
Symbols of power, family unity
The motifs woven into these internationally renowned Turkish carpets and rugs symbolize power, wealth, love and family unity.
Turkey exports carpets worth nearly $1.5 billion annually, according to the Southeast Anatolia Carpet Exporters Association (GAHİB).
Turkey exported nearly $500 million in carpets to the United States last year. Saudi Arabia and Iraq followed the U.S. as major markets for Turkish carpet exports.
Gaziantep, a southeastern Turkish province, manufactures 30 percent of the machine-woven carpets worldwide, while it produces 90 percent of Turkish carpets.