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All the kilims Christopher Trillo offers have a history. They were woven by women and children in rural Anatolia, and are products of an age-old, self-sufficient lifestyle. The wool was shorn from their own sheep or goats. It was spun by hand, then home-dyed, using, traditionally at least, locally available natural dyes. Finally, the pieces were woven, using particular colours and motifs handed down within families for generations. The looms of nomadic weavers were necessarily small and portable and for this reason many larger kilims consist of two narrow pieces sewn together. The weavers were skilled in a variety of techniques, producing piled carpets, various floating weft effects (like sumak and cicim) and simple flat weaves (kilims). Young women would weave kilims, rugs and other items, as part of their dowry, literally a labour of love, showing their skill to their future husbands.
As well as being beautiful in themselves, these are also highly practical objects, fulfilling a range of essential functions: floor coverings, bedding mats, grain sacks, saddle bags, cradles, horse blankets, wall hangings, cushions, eating cloths (to spread on the floor), tent trappings, storage and cargo bags, etc. Unsurprisingly, given their age and use, some of the pieces show signs of wear, including holes and the occasional rustic repair.
‘My love for kilims developed when I lived in Istanbul in the 70s and 80s. I used to spend hours in the Bazaar, drinking tea and watching the non-stop carpet shows put on for tourists and local customers. I also bought a few pieces from the auction in the Bedesten. When I came to leave Turkey, a friendly dealer persuaded me to take some pieces back to England, and send him the money if I managed to sell them…
Although my career in rugs since that time has been part-time and periodic, my love and appreciation of the people and culture of Turkey have been a constant in my life.’
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