Kilim is the oldest known flat weaving technique that does not involve knots. It is made by weaving the weft through the warp. Kilim weaving is an older technique when compared to hand knotting and its use is more versatile. The word ‘kilim’ is Turkish, and the word itself brings into mind Turkish weaving tradition. Nomadic Turkic clans that lived in Central Asia developed this technique. Specifically, tents were made using this very technique. Kilims were used both as decorative textile in these tents as well as an insulation material to heat and reduce the humidity inside the tent. Wool and goat hair, which are main building blocks of kilims give them this insulating property. Since nomadic tribes carry all belongings when moving from one place to another, the kilim looms were carried as well. Therefore, looms were not large in size resulting in narrow and long kilims. When wider kilims were needed, the desired size would be obtained by putting two kilims next to one another and stitching them together. Although now nearly all of the previously nomadic communities have settled and no longer travel, still many Anatolian kilims not made for commercial use are narrow and long.
Since nomadic life gives access to the highest quality wool and natural dyes, nomadic kilims are of very high quality and highly sought after. Most of the classical motifs on kilims have had an ongoing appearance from Central Asia to Anatolia over a span of some millenia. The transformation from Turkic nomadic kilims to Anatolian kilims had been occurring from the 3rd century to the 13th century. Great migrations brought Turkic nomadic people from Central Asia to the west. Some came to Anatolia, some to different parts of Europe. Wherever they went, they took their lifestyle and art with them. Starting with the Seljuk Empire’s establishment in the 13th century, Anatolia created its own kilim style. This being said, similar motifs appear spanning over a vast geographical area. Concepts such as jealousy and fear were represented with the “Wolf’s Foot” and the “Scorpion” motifs whereas bravery, power, and masculinity were represented with the “Ram’s Horn” motifs. The “Tree of Life” motif represents concepts such as immortality and eternity. Kilims have taken names due to the regions where they were made or due to the tribes, clans or groups of people that made them. Even though Turkic communities have overbeared kilim culture, kilims were also made in Iran, Caucasia, India, Pakistan, China, North African countries, and in several European countries.
Kilims add a unique color to homes due to their lighter structure compared to hand knotted rugs and their ethnic look. Kilims have become an indispensable object for modern and minimally designed homes adapting to any space they fill.