Monday, 16 September 2013 10:22

Kilim: Embodiment of Iranian art and culture

Kilim: Embodiment of Iranian art and culture

Kilim or rough hand-woven floor mat is one of the most distinguished embodiment of Iranian culture and art, which date back to the Parthian Period.

Of the important types, one may refer to Verni kilim in Azarbaijan, Gelimcheh of Bijar and Sanandaj, Baluch Kilim, Shiriki Pich that resembles carpet in shape and knots, Pelas in central regions, Masnad in Namin district of Ardebil and Zilou woven near Tehran.

The harmony of color and pattern is a standard to determine the value of a kilim and it wholly depends on the imagination of the weaver, Cais-soas reported.

Kilim is the first manmade floor mat. Archeologists have discovered remains of a kilim east of Anatolia Island dating back to 7,700 years.

Since its material is vulnerable to damage, few specimens of such hand-woven kilims have survived. However, it is believed that the oldest kilim belongs to the Parthian period.

Presently, a majority of kilim weavers are nomadic women who are mostly settled in Dasht-e Moghan, Ahar, Arasbaran and Meshkin-Shahr.

However, most villages in the country, particularly those of East and West Azarbaijan, Kurdestan, Kerman and Kohgilouyeh- Boyerahmad provinces, are important kilim-weaving centers.

Kilim is used as a floor mat in tents and in making bags, saddlebags, bed-coerings, horse-cloth and adornment of walls in tents.

Kilim-weaving looms are mostly set up vertically on the ground and its warps resemble those of carpets. The warps are normally made of white cotton and the woofs are woolen and colorful.

Different images are created with colorful woofs on kilims and one can often identify the locality of the kilim from the motifs and knots used.

 

Verni

Verni is a carpet-like kilim with a delicate and fine warp and woof, which is woven without a previous sketch, thanks to the creative talents of nomadic women and girls in Dasht-e Moghan, Ahar, Arasbaran and Meshkin-Shahr.

However, the Shahsavan tribes-women are exclusive producers of that kilim. Before being used in Dasht-e Moghan, the Autonomous Republic of Karabakh was the birthplace of Verni Kilim.

Nowadays, nomadic women and girls in Dasht-e Moghan are using red, dark blue, cream, white, light blue and a combination of pink and purple colors in making the kilim.

Verni weavers employ the image of birds and animals in simple geometrical shapes, imitating the earthenware patterns that were popular in prehistoric times.

 

Gelimcheh

Gelimcheh (meaning smaller kilim) is another product that is normally woven in Bijar and villages surrounding Sanandaj.

Its raw material is the same used in kilim. The only difference between kilim and gelimcheh is that gelimcheh is smaller in size and has a diversity of colors and patterns.

Kilims of this region mostly bear floral (mostly roses) and corner medallion motifs.

 

Shiriki Pich

Shiriki Pich is another type of kilim whose name is chosen by the nomadic and village weavers.

From a distance, it resembles a carpet and its images are produced by knots. The woof is the result of connection of all the strings on the mat in a manner that it is not visible at all like that of a carpet.

The weaving of this type of kilim is difficult and time-consuming, like the weaving of a carpet. From the distant past, kilim has been produced as a traditional occupation for private or tribal use and is never meant for trade.

The weavers of Shiriki Pich are even more skilled than carpet weavers and its patterns and motifs are diverse and rich.

The Rayeen and Afshar patterns are different in form, although the general plan is the same and a majority of patterns are used by both these tribes.

The colors used in Shiriki Pich are normally dark. Boteh Jeqeh with two flowers in the middle is a famous pattern used in this type of kilim.

The margin is often made of repeated geometrical forms confined in two parallel lines. This is known as a circular margin.

The central flower bears a Kashmiri image. Shiriki Pich with a central medallion is rare. Other floral motifs include Khara, Gol-e Abbasi and Kermani.

Vakili is another type of margin painted in red with parallel lines known as Abdouzi. This makes the Shiriki Pich images more bold.

The Shiriki Pich loom is similar to other kilim looms and the knots are of two types. This type of kilim is popular in Kerman province and especially among the tribes, as well as a part of Hormuzgan province.

In other regions such as Yazd, a special mat known as Pelas is used, which resembles kilim.

The small kilims used in Namin Village in Ardebil are called Masnad and they have many fans within and outside the country.

Zilou is another subset of kilim, which is much coarse in texture and mostly used in summers in villages surrounding Tehran, Saveh and Kashan.

 

Raw Materials and Dyeing

Kilim weavers use silk thread, cotton thread and colorful materials mostly derived from the wools shorn from their livestock.

In the past, they used colorful herbs such as oak bark, pomegranate, onion, hazelnut and madder roots to dye the kilim.

These dyes are not as shiny as chemical paints. However, presently many regions are using chemical dyes that have lowered the quality of nomadic and village kilims.

In none of the rural areas, work is divided and normally the weaver herself washes the wool, spins the thread and does the weaving.

In urban regions, horizontal looms and in rural areas vertical looms are employed. The weavers use a special instrument known as Dafleh or Dafnin to strengthen the fibers as well as the warp and woof.

Besides kilim and smaller kilim, some weavers use the raw material for kilim to produce saddlebags, satchels, covers for cushions, laces for tents and horse-cloth.

Some of these handicrafts are used in daily life and some are employed to adorn the house.

 

Identification of Quality

Contrary to the carpet whose identification has become a technique and ordinary people are aware of the technique, kilim connoisseurs have little background or correct standards to identify the good and bad quality of the mat.

The following information can help a buyer identify the quality of kilims:

Color

Stable and durable color is an important factor in a good kilim , because a good dye helps the kilim endure light and repeated washing.

Those kilims, the raw pile of which have not been properly dyed and washed again, easily lose their color. To see whether the dye is good or bad, one can easily rub the gelim with a wet white cloth.

 

Naturally Superior

Kilims, which possess more woofs are naturally superior in quality.

In order to understand the density of the woofs, it is enough to pull part of the kilim by two hands when you want to select it.

Those possessing more woofs are resistant to pulling whereas kilims with fewer woofs easily disintegrate.

Another point is that if no woolen thread is used in the warp, it is normally replaced by white cotton thread and if the kilim is densely woven these strings are shown like white spots on the kilim.

 

Light Kilim

A light kilim is another indication of superior quality. In other words, the lighter the kilim the more superior its quality, because in a light kilim more delicate warp and woof is employed.

 

Different Colors and Dimensions

Contrary to the carpet, in which the harmony of dye, design and similarity of patterns is a value, in a kilim harmony of color and design is not considered a value.

The carpet is woven by a predesigned sketch whereas the patterns in a kilim are the weaver’s innovation and each weaver leaves a different psychological impression on the mat. Thus, we can see a weaver of kilim using a single pattern in different places on the kilim with different colors and dimensions.

This is a genuine characteristic and art of a special tribe and nation. It not only does not reduce the physical value of the kilim, but also adds to its meaningful designs as well.

 

Jajim

Jajim is popular in many villages and nomadic tribal regions. The only difference between various jajims is their color and delicacy of thread and patterns.

The most important element in a weaver of jajim is her patience and ability. After procuring the needed thread and different dyes, the jajim is woven.

A majority of jajims are woven in an open space (such as streets or workshops in a village). This is called the stretching of the jajim.

Special and delicate designs and patterns such as joulma, sirga, bricks, almond or the bezel of the ring are used in jajim.

Since most inhabitants of Khalkhal city in Khoresh Rostam district, and their surrounding villages are skilled weavers, the jajim woven in these regions is famous.

Givi Zavieh, Nimhil, Nassaz, Barandaq, Jafarabad, Sajhoud and Chenar Liq are famous villages where jajim is woven.

Source: Iran Daily

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