HEREKE SILK CARPETS

 

The present city of Hereke in Turkey was established in 1843 after the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid stopped for a swim. There was a village  on the  slopes of the mountain years before then.  When the Sultan visited the village of Hereke where  he  was given a handmade carpet as a gift, who enjoyed this special gesture. In return  he ordered his  Grand Vizier( Prime Minister) to build a factory  in order to employ the villagers. During the first years of the factory there was only hat manufacturing for the army, shortly thereafter clothing and blankets were manufactured.

  

The town of  Hereke had a very important place in Ottoman History and economy. During the construction of the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, the Sultan ordered that all the fabric that was going to be used for  upholstery and curtains to be made in Hereke. This palace was to be  the greatest in the world at the time and the Sultan also ordered the best carpets of the world for his palace to be made in Hereke. Scientists conducted research on carpet making, and as a result they combined the best techniques of the world. They started to make high quality, beautiful rugs using wool on cotton warps. With the use of silk, finer knotted carpets were able to be made. However a problem arose with the use of silk, natural dyes were not coloring  the silk properly. This problem could not be solved till the visit of the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm.

   

A workshop was established in the construction area of the palace to make large rugs fro the entrance hall and saloons. Carpet makers  were moved  from Hereke to the workshop to make rugs during the construction period. The building was called; "Hereke Workshop", over 142 carpets and 115 prayer rugs were made for the palace either in Hereke or in the Hereke Workshop, a total of 4500sqm of carpets were made.

  

In 1895 the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm brought barrels of German metal dyes to Hereke while he visited the factory. These dyes were used for dying silk fabrics and  silk threads to make carpets. At this time Hereke carpets were  able to achieve a very high quality of dying,  which is still  a fact today.

  

From the 1860's to the 1920's Hereke were made only for the palaces of the Sultans, their relatives, and the high ranking ministers and officers in his cabinet.

  

After the revolution in 1923 the sultanate ended in Ottoman territory and the Turkish Republic was founded by Mustafa Kemal  Atatürk, Turkey began with a socialist parliament and had only one political party till 1946. During that period the government supported only textile industry in Hereke and carpet making was almost forgotten in Hereke since it was considered a luxury by those who were ruling the state.

  

In 7th January 1946 a new political party joined the ballot and won the election in 1950. This started the second birth of Hereke  carpets with support from the government to keep occurring hand-woven arts. In turn, Hereke carpets were available for anyone who could buy them. Private companies then established workshops to  make Hereke carpets once again.

(Quoted from Erhan Şefikzade, 2001)

 

TECHNIQUES

 

Initial preparation of the loom is different compared to the  other techniques in the world. The first warps are at the front, the second warps necessary to wind the threads are behind the first. In other types of rugs they are beside one another. This style of preparation allows  the possibility to pass a second weft which ensures the durability and strength. The second weft is thinner than first, and it zigzags to hold the knots in case the carpet is damaged. Accordingly, this is a factor that differentiates between other carpet making techniques and the Hereke technique.

 

 Hereke carpets are double-knotted, this results in the carpets being having higher durability, and the knots can not be undone and taken out, unlike single knotted carpets which can come undone if pulled from the right side with force. Using the double knots we also ensure 45 degree angled piles, as opposed to the piles of the single knotted carpets which have a 90 degree angled piles. The 90 degree angles results in the carpets becoming shiny if it is used, at the same time however, they become damaged. Hereke carpets have two different appearances from two opposing sides,  which is the result of the 45 degree angle of the piles. Natural silk has a darker color inside, compared to the shiner surface of the thread. This difference in the darkness between the inside and surface of the thread causes the changing  appearance when the carpet is viewed from different sides.

 

 After completing the row, the knots are forced down using an iron comb, this puts all the knots in order  which increases the density and strengthens the carpet. After this stage is completed a horizontal  line is passed between the front and rear warps. Then the Kargı(a wooden dowel in the  loom, set above the knotting area) is moved up  causing the rear warps to come to the front. Now the second weft is zigzagged through  both warps. Once completed the kargı has to be taken back down, and all the lines have to be forced  down again. At this time the extra silk is cut using special scissors very carefully after every row, when this is done a new row can start.

What is cocoon .....

  

One of the most important criteria in making  good quality silk carpet is to have good quality silk which is product of the silkworm , also  known as "Bombyx mori".

 

 

 

How is it brought to  Turkey   

  

Silk as a durable material was known in Hotan city in China 2000.BC, and sold to other countries throughout the world by via the Silk Road. In meantime, the process of silk producing was kept a secret from everybody until 5th. century AD. But, it is supposed to two Byzantian priests secretly brought caterpillar eggs hidden in a stick to İstanbul. After that, silk production spread  whole of Anatolia.  Using silk material in the carpets were realized after 19.th century based on Hereke and Bursa cities.

  

The finest quality of silk in the world is produced in the city of Green Bursa(city) in the Marmara region of Turkey. Silk was first discovered in China and then  taken to Turkey when  the Turks moved from Middle Asia to Anatolia. The diet of silk worms is completely composed of mulberry leaves, and  the mulberry trees of Bursa are some of the best in the world. This is the result  of the an ideal climate for the growth of Mulberry trees that exists in  Bursa. Therefore, a higher quality food results in a higher quality of silk. For an original Hereke carpet only the best silk can be used, therefore Turkish silk is used for the knots, warps and wefts.

   

How is cocoon produced 

  

In silk production, the first stage   is caterpillar eggs which are collected every May and kept at a temperature  2C to 4C until next May in wooden case which contains approximately twenty thousand eggs. In fact,  when the cocoon season comes the silk manufacturer puts them into a hatching chamber (incubator) at a temperature of 20C-25C after the larvae are hatched, the feeding period which takes 5 weeks, begins for the new born very hungry caterpillars, they always eats in  large amounts, even though, the caterpillars in one box, might eat about 65o kilos of fresh mulberry leaves before they begin  spinning their cocoons and become 5-9 cm long (length) during this period. Afterwards, they settle into their cell and begin to spin their cocoons through their bodies  from outer circle till they prisoned them in the cell as becoming smaller and smaller, secreting special gums from a hole in their upper  lips, this usually takes 3-4 days. Then, they are collected 10-11 days after, and sorted into groups such as  doubloons, waste, good.

  

Before, chrysalises emerge as butterflies, the cocoons are taken from multi-shelved rocks and put into the steam chamber, heated to 70C-75C to kill chrysalises, even though, we let them to emerge butterflies to live , they will survive their lives only 3-4 days. Actually, each female moth following copulation will below 350-400 yellow colored eggs and will die.

  

Once it is ascertained that all chrysalises are dead, the cocoons are taken to drying rooms and dried until they lose 40-50 percent of their weight. Reeling process,  cocoons firstly are boiled at 90C temperature in a steam chamber for 10-12 minutes to soften natural gums holding the filaments together. The ends of the filaments are kept together by coagulation of the series a single uniform. After the reeling process where several threads of cocoons come together to form a single yarn then taken to the spinning process.

 

  

The wool used for Hereke carpets is from lambs, however the warps and wefts are cotton. The use of cotton is necessary to produce a finer quality of wool carpets.

 

Some clues about  the silk

 

  •  In order to produce  1sgm2 carpet we need 67  kilos of wet cocoons, 

  • Weaver makes 1.000.000 knots in 6 months time. .  

  • We can get 1000-3000 mt of silk but 600 mt without a break from each cocoon. 

  • Silk absorbs humidity quicker than wool

  • It burns at 100C and smells like burnt hair.

  • Silk from perforated cocoons are very poor quality and can not be used in carpet making

  • 1 sgm of silk carpet is made of approximate 7 kilos of dyed silk

  • Clipping the pile during the knotting process, 1/3 of the total materials are thrown as waste

  • 30-35 kilos wet cocoons are obtained from 20.000 eggs>?????

  • 1kilo raw silk is obtained 3 kilos of wet cocoons after drying process, that is, it loses %25-30 percent of weight during drying.

  • Used in parachute clothes

 

Silk producers don’t use their rooms during cocoon season due to undisturbing  silk worms as well  trying  to keep the room  temperature in appropriate level, they usually sleep in the corridors or outside of the house. As soon as season is over they come back their homes till next  silk season

 

During  completing the row, the knots are forced down using an iron comb, this puts all the knots in y carefully after every row, when this is done a new row can start.

 

In Hereke,  the most skilful master people were put on those looms. That is why,  expert craftsmen of exceptional ability created valuable masterpieces full of charm such as their naturalist floral decorations, bold medallion patterns, "Watermelon","Eyes of nightangale", "One night One thousand"patterns.

 

Dr. Kamil Güller

kamilguller@gmail.com

+ 90  532 648 50 95

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