Kilims, the oldest product of the weaver’s loom, are very extensively used in the Orient. They replace rugs almost entirely in the houses of the middle classes, and for this purpose the heavy Kurdish kilims are used. These come in one and two pieces, generally the latter, and are sewed together like breadths of carpet. They are woven in stripes usually in dark tones, and a design worked in white i largely employed. They are very durable and could well be used for floor covering in bed rooms and country houses.
A coarse sort of kilim called Pallas is used in Turkey for all sorts of things. It replaces kelims in the homes of the poor, it is used for saddle-bags, saddle-cloths, covering for horses and mules, and for market bags. It comes in strips about a half a yard wide and from three to five yards long. Even in this the lowest grade of kelim the colours are combined in a charming and effective way. A better grade about a yard wide is sometimes most beautifully embroidered and is used for sacks for transport of grain. In travelling one looks with envy at these lovely sacks piled high on the creaking buffalo carts. The bags with a large compartment for bread and a smaller one on each side for cheese that the shepherds wear on their lonely marches in the mountains are made from this material, embroidered and covered with tufts of wool to keep off the “evil eye.” The girdles used by the Kurds for the double purpose of holding up their trousers and carrying their money are also of kelim weave. Most lovely pillow coverings of the same material are to be had, particularly in the region of Konia.
In Oriental houses there are no rooms set apart and furnished as sleeping apartments. The beds are simply a mattress filled with cotton or wool and placed at night in any room. A single heavy quilt faced with cotton cloth serves both in winter and summer for covering, for onlythe girdle and outside coat is removed at night. These mattress beds, together with the bedding, are stored during the day in cupboards or on shelves built into the wall. Wood being so scarce and expensive, these cupboards seldom have any doors, but short kelims are woven to hang in front of them. (See illustration.) Wealthy men, sheiks, brigands, etc., delight in fine trappings for their horses, and exquisite Senneh kilims are made for this purpose. Kilims are also used in the place of prayer rugs and are woven with this end in view, the design containing a prayer niche. The Senna kelims woven in the Persian province of that name are the finest made. They come generally only in the cupboard size and for saddle blankets. They have the open work design in the weave and some of them are as fine as pocket handkerchiefs; such is the quality of the one shown in the colour plate. The finer Turkish kilim rugs with a border, which are used in America for portieres and to which the name Kis Kelim is given, are not known by this name in the Orient. These kelims are mostly made inthe vicinity of Malatia, are not embroidered, and have an open work pattern in the weaving, so that when held upto the light there appear to be holes all through th fabric, but closer scrutiny will reveal a regular pattern. The design of these kelims form large medallions as they are originally sewed together with the borders on the outside; this medallion design is particularly characteristic of the Malatia weave. Malatia is a town in Asia Minor not far distant from the Euphrates River and is situated on the main caravan and post route from the coast to Diabekir and Mosul. The population is mostly Armenian, and it is these people who maket h kelims and very durable and beautiful embroidered table covers and aprons. Single kelims are also woven here, large enough for divan and couch covers and much more sanitary than upholstery.
Aleppo is also a great centre for kelim weaving. The Aleppo kelim is generally finer and has more open work than the Malatia. They seldom, if ever, have the medallion design, and the colourings are much softer and suggest more the old Persian combinations. They are the most expensive of the Turkish make.