The background of Kilim rugs
Kilims are flat woven rugs made with a combination of jute, wool and cotton. The origins of kilim rugs are unknown but there are different examples of these rugs across most of Asia and the Balkans with the earliest date back to the fourth or fifth century. Being flat woven, kilims differ in appearance to the traditional pile that we are used to seeing in carpets and wool rugs. For this reason they are quite thin, but due to the closeness of the weave and quality of materials, make for very durable floor coverings.
More recently, kilim rugs have been woven with a mix of 70% jute and 30% wool, but as the global demand for jute increases as an environmentally sound material, there has been a move away from jute and an increase in the levels of cotton and wool used in the weave. The resulting closer weave which is produced in a 80% wool – 20% cotton kilim makes the finished product softer, more durable and kinder under foot. The use of cotton and wool has the added benefit of the dyes being more readily absorbed which gives a much richer and vibrant colour within the woven, geometric design.
Many kilim rugs on the market today are made in India, often within small cottage industries. The wool comes from the Bikaneer region of India which borders Pakistan, which is carefully hand spun, washed and hand dyed with traditional natural dyes before being woven into the geometric patterns which are so inherent of kilims. More traditionally, the different symbols had specific meanings and reflected long life, fertility and family; however modern versions focus less on symbolic meaning and are more aesthetic appeal. Depending on the size of the kilim, the craftsmen work either alone on the loom or in pairs and the work is often fitted within farming commitments, which can often make the supply a little unpredictable! Once completed, the rugs are transported by any means possible (foot, bike, cart, etc) to the main warehouse, where they are given a final QC check and packed for shipping to the UK.
At Myakka, we pride ourselves of offering an extensive range of both wool and jute kilims, in an array of sizes, all sourced through recognised fair trade channels.