The Loom


   Flat-woven rugs in their basic form are woven on a simple loom. The same type of loom is also used for knotted-pile rugs in fact, since only a simple warp system in used.

   The simplest forms of looms used in Anatolia for flat or pile weaving are the low ground looms which are parallel to the ground, easily dismantleable, and portable, and the high, vertical simple-frame looms. Both consist basically of two wooden loom beams over which the warp is stretched, a heddle rod to hold alternate warps and a shed to alternate the warp face. 

Flatwoven kilim rugs

   The warp, a system of parallel vertical threads wound over the two parallel beams, one at the top of the loom (furthest from the weaver) (the warpbeam) and one at the foot of the loom (the clothbeam) is interlaced in weaving with the weft, a system of parallel horizontal threads. Both the low and high warp looms are used for flatweaving in Anatolia and they may each be either fixed or roll type. 

   The basic ground loom commonly used by nomads in Anatolia can be easily set up on a flat space. Four poles, two long and two short, are erected to mark out a rectangular area which determines the length and width of the rug to be woven. Two beams or rods are tightly bound at a height of approximately ten centimeters above the ground to the outer faces of the poles to form the ends of the rectangle. 

   The simplest ground loom has the warp harnessed to the loom beams and stretched between them. Only a single layer of warp, the face warp is thus formed on the loom Some ground looms, although simple in construction have continuous warps and are effectively turning looms. These may have two long side beams attached to the end beams to form a sturdy rectangular framework for the turning process. The warp, instead of being simply harnessed to the beams, is wound over them and stretched down and around the beams. In this way two layers of warp are formed, one above the other, the face on the upper side is called the face warp system. The two faces are separated by the thickness of the loom's beams. As weaving progresses the beams are turned and the warp is slowly passed underneath over the lower beam. The unwoven warp passes over the upper beam to the face of the loom and towards the weaver. The frequency or closeness of the warp threads to each other depends on the thickness of the weft thread to be passed between them.


   The simplest form of vertical fixed loom in use in Anatolia is a variation of the fixed horizontal or ground loom, in which the loom beams are supported by two side posts making a rigid frame. The upper, or warp beam is supported by beam beds hollowed out at the top of the post. Other looms may have warp systems in which the face and rear warp are kept separate. The vertical loom may also be of the winding or roll type. The winding loom is again a variant of the ground winding loom, where the beams are turned in their slots and the warp is continuous. A common type of roll loom allows a warp longer than the length of the loom to be wound onto the upper beam During weaving it is rolled down onto the lower beam. The upper beam thus acts as a spool for the warp. This system makes possible the weaving of rugs longer than the loom itself or of more than one rug without having to set up a new warp Before weaving, the warp threads are divided into two alternating groups. The weft thread may be passed between the warp set, or pair of warp threads which cradle and secure it. Two groups of warp are differentiated to form sets by lashing a horizontal, round rod, the heddle, to alternate threads in the warp system. The tied warps are then pulled taut on the heddle to create the stack-like separation between groups of warp, the shed through which the weft may pass in a single movement.

    In fixed ground looms the heddle is a stable stick supported on stones or similar objects. These are drawn along the ground gradually as the weaving advances allowing the weaver to progress up the fixed warp. In fixed vertical looms the heddle is set into one of a series of niches on the loom posts and can be raised gradually from niche to niche as the weaving advances. In low winding looms as in vertical roll or winding looms, advancing the heddle is not necessary as the warp itself turns. When the heddle is in place the alternate warps which are lashed to it are pulled taut, once more depressed between the heddle and the upper beam, so that they are forced down below the alternate set to their original position before lashing. An additional rod or slat is passed between the two groups in this position, countering the effect of the heddle and maintaining the shed. When weaving flatweaves on the simplest horizontal or vertical loom, moving this up and down depresses or raises the rear or lower group enough to allow the set to change after each row of weft has been passed. Consequently, the two groups of warp alternate between each weft pass to create a counter-shed. The interlace resulting is the basic structure of the warp-weft set used as a ground for flat woven or knotted pile rugs. One warp from each group, one free and one lashed, make up a pair or set. It is this paired unit which defines the relationship of the weft to the finished weave. 

   On the simple loom a further opener or stablizer rod or slat is passed through the shed between the weaver and the heddle to stabilize the shed for the passage ofweft and to beat down the weft. On the simple A ground weave looms seen in Anatolia, the shed is created by a single shed-stick. This is only essential where continuous weft is required. Other rods may be inserted above wC the heddle where alternating warp systems of greater flexibility or complexity are required (ie. for a cross on the warp). In kilim weaving, local sets are alternated with the hand, but a stabilizer slat (kilic) may be inserted between the woven area and the heddle to realign the sets. 

   Although the most primitive loom now used in Anatolia is the ground loom,there is evidence that the earliest form of lo may have been vertical. Archaeological findings and elsewhere show a very early type of loom consisting of two vertical forked posts set into the ground with one upper beam resting on them. The warp was passed over this beam, thread by thread, and secured below by loom weights. The weft threads on this loom were passed, one by one, over and under each warp by hand. It is thought that in time this laborious process was facilitated by separating the front and rear sets of warps, the rear set being lashed to a heddle rod and the front set to loom weights.

   Having set up the loom, weaving can now begin. First a row of twined wefts or some close passes of weft secure the ends of the weave, after which the ground technique is introduced. In the cicim, zili and sumak, after one pass of weft, the shed-stick is pushed up to create a countershed, then the first pass of design weft is made, and the weave is depressed with a wooden or metal device, a slat or comb-like beater. In kilim weaving, the hand is used to produce enough shed to allow the weft to be passed to the edge of the motif. After the weaving is completed it is finished off by a row of ned or closely packed weft as at the beginning. When the finished rug is to be removed from the fixed type loom, the warp is cut from edge to edge above and below the finished article. If the loom is a roll type, the whole woven fabric is unrolled after all the warp has been used up. Then it is cut off the loom beam and the finished pieces are separated.

   The weft and extra weft pattern yarn which are in small skeins (menik) are passed by hand. A shuttle-like implement (mekik) is used for passing the weft in plain flatweaves such as the tent weave, or for warp-faced, balanced plain or striped ground weave.


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