A motif can be defined as a decorative themes, pattern or design. Traditionally, women wove kilims. The kilim motifs are derived from desires, family lives etc. Many motifs are used in kilims. Different motifs mean different things. This short article explains different motifs and their meanings. This short article explains various kilim motifs and their meanings.
See also: Kilim Rugs
Hands-on-hips (Turkish: elibelinde)
This motif symoolizes motherhood and fertility. It is widely used. There are many variations as you can see above. This is probably the oldest motif.
Ram’s horn (Turkish: koc boynuzu)
This motif symbolizes fertility, heroism, manhood, power and masculinity. This may also mean leaderships.
Fertility (Turkish: bereket)
This is similar to the hands-on-hips and ram’s horn motifs.
Eye (Turkish: goz)
This motifs represent protection, protection agains the evil eye. Turkish culture believe that the evil eye can cause harm and injury.
Cross (Turkish: hac)
This also represents protection. This does not represent religious meanings. According to Turkish culture, cross will divide the evil eye into four pieces.
Hook (Turkish: cengel)
This is another motif agains the evil eye. This motif is called “cakmak” (lighter), “egri ala”, “balik” (fish) and “kucuk kara balik” (small black fish).
Earrings (Turkish: kupe)
This motif symoolizes marriage. In Turkish culture, earrings are a common wedding presents and this in kilims, depictions of earrings represent marriage. A girl who is using this motif in her Kilims trying to tell that she wants to get married.
Chest (Turkish: Sandik)
This also symoolizes marriage and a desire to marry, more specifically the trousseau chest of a young girl. Traditionally a young girl prepares special wedding stuff packed into her wedding chest which would be transported to her new home once she was married.
Start (Turkish: yildiz)
This represents productivity. A star means lights and lights mean intelligence. A star motif in Kilims also represents happiness. Some say this motif represents the womb, thus it may mean fertility.
Scorpion (Turkish: akrep)
Scorpion motifs in Kilims are the symbol of protection.
Dragon (Turkish: ejder)
This motif also symbolizes protection.
Bird (Turkish: kus)
Different birds may mean different things. So bird motifs may mean different things depending on the bird. For instance, while, owls and ravens motifs mean bad lucks; pigeons, doves and nightingales motifs mean good luck. Generally, the bird symbol means luck and happiness.
Tree of life (Turkish: Hayal agaci)
This motif symbolizes immortality. It also may mean after life. Many different tree symbols can be used such as olive, oak, fig, palm etc.
Burdock (Turkish: pitrak)
This again symoolizes protection agains the evil eye.
Hand, finger or comb (Turkish: el, parmak veya tarak)
Mostly they represent protection. Hand and finger motifs usually symbolize productivity and good luck, comb motifs represent birth and marriage.
See also: What makes a kilim unique?