Antique Kilim & Flatweave Overview

Kilim is the Turkish word for weft-faced tapestry, the simplest weaving structure known. It consists of vertical warps combined purely with successive passes of horizontal wefting. If the wefting is compressed vertically with a weavers comb so as to cover the warps entirely, it produces ‘weft-faced’ tapestry. By manipulating the wefts in different colors, they can be made to produce the design of the kilim. Where changes in color are accomplished by vertically successive rows of diverging wefts around two adjacent warps, this produces small gaps or slits – so-called slit tapestry technique. Alternatively the diverging wefts in different colors may stagger back and forth vertically across two adjacent warps – so-called dovetail tapestry.

Bessarabian rugs are a group of nineteenth century flatweaves or kilims made in the mountainous Carpathian region between the Ukraine and Moldova, which reflect synthesis of local folk motifs and designs inspired by eighteenth century French carpets popular at the Russian Court and in aristocratic circles. Both metropolitan and provincial antique Bessarabian kilim rugs are distinguished from Western European urban weavings by less formal designs that manage to achieve an elegant balance between noble and poor, grace and force.

The Bessarabian nomenclature relates to a group of nineteenth century carpets and flatweaves or kilims made in the mountainous Carpathian region between the Ukraine and Moldova. Although little is known about the circumstances or workshops where these rugs and flatweaves were fashioned, the output shows a synthesis of local folk motifs and designs inspired by eighteenth century French carpets popular at the Russian Court and in aristocratic circles. Both metropolitan and provincial antique Bessarabian kilims are distinguished from Western European urban weavings by less formal designs that manage to achieve an elegant balance between noble and poor, grace and force, making these unique flatweaves among the most sought after of decorative antique rugs and carpets.

For countless centuries Needlework rugs and carpets have been stitched in many European countries including France, England, Italy and Russia. These antique Needlework rugs and carpets were often embroidered in panels, by groups of females that included nuns and noblewomen; the completed panels were then joined to form elaborate carpet designs. Although floral decoration is most often utilized, antique Needlework rugs are sometimes figural in design, with pastoral scenes and complex landscapes.