The Turkish carpets (kilims) provide a rich source of symbolism into the life of the region as well as personal information about the woman (men do not make these carpets) who made the kilim. We were very interested in the symbology of kilims in the context of mapping – particularly the inherent social, cultural and historical narratives that they contain.
We are exploring how the symbology of the kilim could be transposed onto a contemporary understanding of the map from a geographical perspective and from the context of incorporating multiple layers of meaning on the map. We are also interested in how we articulate our respective place on the map – as cultural strangers.
One Australian artist, Megan Cope is doing some very interesting work on this sort of theme, where she is layering Indigenous names and symbols on top of old maps.
The quote below is a summary of the symbolism is kilims.
Most Turkish kilim designs have their roots in the conservative, indigenous, pre-Christian and pre-Islamic backgrounds of the rural population and are related to the basic themes of life: birth, marriage, fertility; spiritual life and happiness; love and unison; and death. They reflect the ancient cults and practices of their ancestors around these events. There are many symbols in the vocabulary of the weaver and many stylizations of each symbol. Unlocking the keys to these symbols reveals a deeper insight into the values, dreams and culture of the Anatolian people and expresses layer upon layer of history and influence in the region.(from The Folk Art Gallery website)
Here are some links:
- Language of Kilims
- The visual language of Turkish kilims
- Reading motifs on kilims (pdf)
- The Language of Kilim in Anatolia (pdf)