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- A practical guide to Cappadocia
Carpet weaving is one of the oldest professions in the world. In central Asia, people wove carpets and kilims in order to protect themselves from the cold climate. The art of Turkish carpet weaving first started in central Asia. The oldest known knotted carpet (5th century BC) was discovered in the Pazyryk valley, about 5000 feet up on the Altai Mountains in Siberia.
But carpets reflect the culture of a people and often open our eyes to the way women who had little way of expressing their desires or their frustations could show it through their weaving designs.
Reading a Turkish carpet is fascinating as you think of the young girl on her loom who is in fact using age-old symbols and designs but is writing her personal diary. Knotting in her fear of her future mother-in-law or her hopes for the future - children, long life, prosperity. Buying a hand-knotted carpet with a unique design is not just a way of decorating your dining-room - it also a way of preserving history and helping to continue these ancestral traditions.
The big carpet factories that you may visit on organised tours have interesting demonstrations which are well worth seeing. Some of the big stores will tell you that they are a cooperative subsidised by the State, or a weaving school - unfortunately this is an untruth. If you really want to do your bit to support the local economy and make sure that small shops do not disappear from the high streets of Cappadocia, then have a look around and see what they offer. It is obvious that family-run shops have much lower overheads than the big stores so you will be pleasantly surprised at the price difference. However, do not expect cheap bargains, a hand-knotted or woven carpet takes months, even years to make by hand. If you are looking for a cheap rug, you are better off buying one from the supermarket in your home country.
At the end of the day, you don't have to buy, you can just have an enjoyable time looking and learning about rugs while sipping a tea or two.
It's a surprise to find a foreign woman in the man's world of carpet selling in Turkey,
so what's Ruth Lockwood's story?
Ruth says: "Originally I am from New Zealand, and I inherited beautiful oriental carpets in my youth from a grandmother who had lived overseas. The exotic stories of these rugs always fascinated me, so arriving in Turkey with its gorgeous handwoven textiles was pure joy, and my fascination with rugs and the village women that create them continued to grow. I opened my first shop just a year after arriving, and over the last 3 decades have successfully managed and owned my own businesses here in GÖreme, Cappadocia. Visiting little-known villages, searching bazaars, working with village women on their looms, and discovering how the rug trade works has been a fascinating journey and one that still excites me to this day."
These days Ruth is widely known as the "go to" person for those wishing to learn about and buy carpets when visiting Turkey. Pop in and have a chat and discover her amazing collection at
Köşe Çikmazi No:1. Göreme / Nevsehir. E-mail: [email protected]
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