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What is a Kilim?

Kilim is a Turkish origin word which designates a pile less textile produced by one of the weaving techniques. This technique is common and practiced widely in oriental countries including Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Caucasus, China and etc. It is important to know that Kilims are not considered as Oriental Rug and they have their own class. The major difference between Kilim and rug is that the design appealing on a rug is often made by short strands which are individually woven. These strands are being knotted onto the warps having variety of colors and by pressing the wefts tightly, they are able to hold together.

Kilim weaving technique

Kilims are often woven with utilizing the slit weave method. The slit refers to presence of the gap which is between two blocks of color. This is created with a return of the weft around the last warp existed in colorized area, and later the conjoining color weft is returned around the adjacent warp. Experienced weavers often crate the weft so tightly in order to cover the warp completely. They also use diagonal patterns with vertical slits to avoid weakening the structure of the kilim. This produces sharp and bold patterns which weavers enjoy creating while having more freedom than in a plain weave method. Thus most kilims have geometrical designs, however products which have floral designs also exist. They are also more methods available which are similar to Rug Weaving techniques.

Usage of Kilims

Some people think that kilims are only used for flooring which is a wrong perspective. Some of the products are used for bench and divan covering, some are for hangings and they are even small kilims for creating bags or mule saddles. They are also popular colorful products which are called kilim pillows. They are used for comforting any sitting furniture and giving it an aesthetic look. Kilims are considered as a piece of art, thus they can be ideal for hanging from the wall in order to beautify the interior of a room.

Materials Used for Creating Kilim


The primary material used to create kilim is wool. They are many products available which are completely made of wool. Due to the inherent quality of the wool, this material has become very popular among weavers. Wool is very durable, supple, very easy to spun, takes on dyes very quickly and it is available with huge amount in traditional kilim weaving regions. They are some breeds of sheep which weavers use their wool for making the kilim. The most commons are merino whose fleece is sough-after for its special length and luster of fiber and the fat-tailed sheep which has favorable gazing conditions that brings much of the ideal fleece used in kilims.


Cotton provides high strength and plentiful supply; thus it is commonly used for warps. This material can keep its shape while being used, retains its natural color over time, and it can be spun into thin, fine strands. It is mostly interwoven in areas of the kilim which require highlighting certain aspects in the design which is mainly executed with wool.

Animal Hair

Some weavers prefer to use goat, camel or horse hair to create unique characteristics in kilim. Camel hair is used in order to increase durability and strength of the product. Horse tail or main hair is often used to provide decorative tassels. Goat hair was mostly used for making tents and flooring of them due to its strength. This type of animal hair is rougher than sheep wool, however the angora goat hair which is called mohair, is much softer and it provides silky sheen when mixed with wool. Mohair also has shiny characteristics and due to its ability, it can be used for increasing aesthetics of some particular areas of the kilim.


Silk has always been an expensive, luxurious material and kilims which are made of it have become rare nowadays. This type of Kilim is still being produced in Iran and Turkey. Products which are made of this material can be very applicable for royal or very formal purposes such as decorating a room which important guests should be present in it. This material is also very popular and used for creating Persian Rugs.

Symbols Used in Kilim designs

Most of the motifs which are used in Kilim design are obtained from historical symbols used in ages to communicate, inform and convey ideas. Over time, this symbols have been blended with myths and became popular signs in this art among people. This signs are mostly geometric or contain animal motifs which gained special beliefs among the traditional regions. Spike like or hexagonal patterns are visible in most of the noble kilims. Many of antique products with beautiful symbols can be found in numerous exhibitions and museums.

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