There are many beautiful types of rugs in the world. The different types and weaves of the rugs often tell where a rug was made and sometimes a lot about its history. The kilim rugs, genre of “oriental rugs“, have a rich history that is passed down through the generations from skilled weaver to apprentice. Although kilim is a common name for these flatwoven rugs, they are also known by other names in different regions. Kilim has a Turkish origin and they are mostly made in parts of Turkey. Places with a related heritage use the same technique and include places like North Africa, the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia. They are a continuation of the traditions and cultural history of nomadic cultures.
A kilim is different from a carpet in the form of the weave. A carpet is created by weaving a short strand of different colors in a row. When a different color is needed for the pattern, the strand is either knotted to the warp or held together by tightly pressing the wefts together to hold each stand end. A kilim is created by weaving with the flatweave technique.
A flatweave is created by weaving the color blocks all at one time by turning the welt back on itself. When a color block is finished, the next color is started and is woven completely before starting on the next color. This weave creates strong and bold contrasts of color. There are different types of flatweave techniques that change the look and texture of the kilim, and sometimes are only used for specific purposes. Due to the flatweave, Kilims are lighter than carpets and are only made with specific materials that are hand-woven.
Although hand-knotted and hand-woven are both made by hand, they are another difference between carpets and kilims. The process to make hand-knotted rugs is longer and more complex than hand-woven. Hand-knotted weaves can have finer details and therefore require a more skilled weaver and artisan. As the name denotes, a hand-knotted weave is made of thousands to millions of knots. They have a back and front and are not reversible. Hand-woven rugs are weaved more like a basket. They have no knots in them since the weaves are started and finished in color blocks instead of lines. They are also reversible.
The dhurrie rug is another style of carpet that is flatwoven. It is similar to the kilim in a few ways. They were both usually made of wool and both were reversible, due to the flatweave. Dhurrie rugs have their history in Pakistan, India, Tibet and Afghanistan. However, the main difference between the two rugs is in the coloring and styling. Kilim rugs tend to be made with bright, bold colors woven into geometrical shapes. Dhurrie rugs are predominately woven with soft colors and depict animal and floral designs. The dhurrie also has a distinct stonewashed look to them.
Because kilims are more lightweight and reversible, they also have more uses than carpets. They are often used as purses, prayer rugs, mats, room dividers and more. Due to their strong ties to nomadic cultures, they have also been traditionally used as tents. These colorful rugs have an ethnic appeal that reaches out of their origins and into the homes and hearts of people all over the world.