In the southern province of Antalya, Turkey, an impressive collection of approximately 20,000 handwoven rugs and carpets, sourced from various regions across the country, is currently in the process of being prepared for delivery to discerning customers. These textiles have recently undergone extensive restoration and cleaning procedures, followed by an extended period of sun-drying in open fields.
This remarkable endeavor is orchestrated by the diligent residents of the Döşemealtı district, who annually dedicate themselves to the meticulous repair and revitalization of precious traditional rugs and carpets hailing from all corners of Turkey. This labor-intensive effort transpires during a specific timeframe, spanning from June 20 to September 10 each year.
The objective is to breathe new life into these rugs, which, over time, have faded, worn, and accumulated soil. The outcome of this meticulous restoration and maintenance process is the complete rejuvenation of these cultural treasures, revealing their vibrant colors. As the autumn season approaches, the local community embarks on what is aptly termed the “carpet harvest,” a process entailing the careful collection of these restored carpets for their ultimate delivery to their respective owners.
Amongst this diverse collection of rugs and carpets are items with a storied history spanning a century, boasting a substantial value of 400,000 Turkish Liras. Their restoration journey commences with meticulous repairs and a thorough microbial cleansing process, achieved through immersion in sterile pools.
Following this, the handwoven rugs and carpets are subjected to a comprehensive sanitization and washing procedure. Subsequently, they are meticulously laid out across an expansive “carpet field,” covering an area spanning 80 acres. Here, they are diligently turned over and back at specific intervals under the sun’s rays, ensuring the optimal absorption of moisture and heat. This method enhances the tonal richness of their colors, resulting in a vibrant and revitalized appearance.
Once these textiles are purified from microbes and their colors have achieved their desired brilliance, they are painstakingly folded and assembled by dedicated workers, preparing them for their journey to meet their owners.
Hasan Topkara, a key participant in the carpet restoration process, aptly remarks, “This field is never left idle. We sow and harvest in the winter, and in the summer, we take care of our carpets. This land provides us with a livelihood in every way.”
Beyond their cultural significance, rugs occupy a pivotal role in Turkish culture, with their origins dating back to the 11th century when Turks settled in the Anatolian region. These textiles have evolved to carry not only cultural value but also substantial economic importance. In recent years, they have garnered increasing interest from foreign enthusiasts.
Turkey has set ambitious goals in the carpet industry, particularly in the realm of handmade rugs, which were once a coveted product among tourists. Ahmet Hayri Diler, the esteemed head of the Istanbul Carpet Exporters’ Association (İHİB), has articulated the association’s intent to spearhead a visionary project aimed at rekindling the production of handmade carpets.
The initiative involves the strategic selection of pilot areas in regions where the cherished tradition of carpet weaving perseveres. In these regions, specialized teams comprising designers, marketers, and experts well-versed in materials, yarns, and dyes will be meticulously assembled, fostering a renaissance in the art of handmade carpet production.