The symbolism of Oriental Turkish Rugs: The Story Behind Motifs
Oriental Turkish rugs are known for their intricate and colorful designs, which often feature a wide range of symbolic motifs that hold deep cultural and spiritual significance. These motifs can range from simple geometric shapes to complex patterns and designs and are woven into the rug using various techniques and materials.
The motifs found in Oriental Turkish rugs are often influenced by the region in which they were created, as well as the cultural and religious traditions of the people who made them. Some motifs are rooted in ancient mythology and folklore, while religious or spiritual beliefs inspire others.
Many of the motifs found in Oriental Turkish rugs are symbolic and are believed to hold special meaning or power. Some motifs are associated with concepts like fertility, abundance, and protection, while others represent spiritual growth, enlightenment, and wisdom.
Whether simple or complex, each motif found in Oriental Turkish rugs adds depth and meaning to the overall design of the rug. Through the use of color, shape, and pattern, these motifs create a rich tapestry of cultural and spiritual symbolism that continues to captivate and inspire people around the world.
Here are five common motifs that you can see in Turkish Oriental Carpets:
Hands on Hips Motif
The “hands on hips” motif is a common design element found in many Oriental Turkish rugs and kilims. This motif is characterized by the depiction of a person with their hands on their hips, often in a standing or upright position. It is often associated with fertility and motherhood, also notions of strength, power, and independence and is sometimes used to symbolize the courage and bravery of the weaver who created the rug.
The hands on hips motif found in Turkish rugs has been linked to traditional dance figures in Turkish culture. In Turkish dance, performers often place their hands on their hips or hold them out to the side while dancing, creating a visually striking and expressive pose.
It is believed that the hands on hips motif in Turkish rugs may have been inspired by these dance figures, and may have originally been intended to represent dancers in motion. Over time, the motif evolved and became a more abstract design element, with weavers using it to create patterns and designs that were both visually interesting and culturally meaningful.
While the exact origins of the hands on hips motif in Turkish rugs are not known for certain, its connection to dance figures suggests that it has a long and rich history in Turkish culture. Today, the motif remains a popular design element in many Oriental Turkish rugs and is valued for its intricate detail and cultural significance.
While the grain pattern in traditional Oriental Turkish rugs is not typically considered a motif in the same way that other design elements are, it can hold symbolic meaning in certain contexts.
For example, in some traditional Turkish villages, the grain pattern on a rug is believed to represent the natural cycles of growth, harvest, and renewal that are integral to rural life. The ribbed texture created by the grain pattern is thought to symbolize the ridges left in the earth after planting, while the overall pattern of the rug may be seen as a representation of the interconnectedness of all living things.
In other cases, the grain pattern on a rug may be used to create a sense of movement or directionality within the design. By aligning the grain pattern with certain design elements, a weaver can create a sense of flow or progression within the rug, guiding the viewer’s eye and emphasizing certain motifs or symbols.
The eye motif is a common design element found in many Turkish Oriental rugs. This motif is characterized by the depiction of a stylized eye, often with concentric circles or other design elements around it.
In Turkish culture, the eye motif is known as the “nazar” and is believed to protect against the evil eye or negative energy. The evil eye is believed to be a malevolent force that can cause harm or misfortune, and is often associated with envy or jealousy.
By incorporating the eye motif into their rugs, weavers were able to create objects that not only provided warmth and comfort, but also offered a powerful form of spiritual protection to their owners.
Today, the eye motif remains a popular design element in many Turkish Oriental rugs, and is often used as a way to incorporate a sense of tradition and cultural heritage into modern home decor.
Birds in Flight
The image of a bird in flight has long been associated with the idea of messages or news being delivered from one place to another. In Turkish culture, it is believed that if you see a bird flying in the distance, it may be a sign that good news is on its way.
The flying bird motif in Turkish Oriental rugs is often seen as a symbol of hope and anticipation. The image of a bird in flight can create a sense of excitement and expectation within the design of the rug, and may be used to evoke feelings of optimism and positivity in the viewer.
The flying bird motif in Turkish Oriental rugs is a powerful and multifaceted design element that holds a wide range of symbolic meanings. Whether representing freedom, grace, beauty, or the anticipation of good news, this motif adds depth and richness to the overall composition of the rug and serves as a testament to the skill and creativity of Turkish weavers throughout history.
Ear of Grain
This motif depicts a stalk of wheat, barley, or another grain, often with delicate leaves and stems.
In Turkish culture, the ear of grain motif is associated with fertility, abundance, and prosperity. The grain represents the bounty of the earth and the rewards of hard work and good fortune. In some cases, the ear of grain motif may also symbolise renewal and growth as new grains sprout from the fertile soil.
The ear of grain motif is often incorporated into the overall design of a rug, either as a central element or as a subtle detail within a larger pattern. Its inclusion can add depth and richness to the rug’s overall composition and can help evoke a sense of connection to nature and the cycles of life.