Visiting a Silk Carpet Factory in Turkey:
On any tour of Turkey, you can be sure of being taken to a carpet factory, usually in Istanbul, and we’ve done our share of carpet factory visits on our various trips to Turkey. When our tour left Istanbul without a carpet factory visit, I thought that we had been spared, but not for long. Out in the unique Cappadocia region with its moon-like landscape and fairy chimneys, our guide manages to find a carpet factory to visit.
After our visit to the Göreme Open Air Museum and the fairy chimneys of Monk’s Valley we drove to Ortahisar (Ürgüp) to visit a carpet factory. This was not a part of our itinerary and as we were pushed for time, our guide made arrangements for us to have Turkish pizzas at the carpet factory – TL 3.00 per person for the pizza which wasn’t bad.
Carpet Factory Visit
Thankfully, our Cappadocia carpet factory visit was a little different from the ones that we’ve been too before. Normally, you get a presentation about the various types and grades of carpets in a showroom, followed by a pitch for sales. On this Cappadocia trip, we visited a silk carpet factory.
We started our visit with a demonstration of how silk cocoons are formed and saw how silk is reeled from the cocoons to make silk threads. This was interesting as I’ve never before seen how silk is produced. Sitting on the floor in the next room are some women, with colourful scarfs, weaving their carpet. Here we have an explanation of carpet weaving, including the difference between wool and silk carpet weaving. We get to see the women doing their craft and even in their early stage of production, the silk carpets that these women were weaving looked exquisite. Although they didn’t display any strain, it must be back-breaking sitting for hours, without any back support, weaving their carpet.
Some Carpet Showmanship
We next went to the familiar showroom where a range of carpets are brought out for display and to entice customers. If you haven’t been to a Turkish carpet factory before, it is entertaining. The presenter first starts with the cheaper carpets, so you won’t think that the Turkish carpets are beyond your budget, and he then gradually works up to the more expensive silk ones. Visitors are urged to feel the carpets, sit on them, walk on them and hopefully to fall in love with them. And as he’s going through his presentation, his helpers display their carpet showmanship by flinging open rolls and rolls of floor carpets, as if they were weightless. And while carpet after carpet are unfolded before you, some of the showroom staff are carefully looking out for individuals who display some interest. At the end of session they make a few sales, not many, but I give them A for effort for their untiring energy in putting on the carpet display.
This Cappadocia carpet factory is a cooperative and the prices are supposed to be cheaper than buying carpets in the shop. One lady who was on the verge of buying said that she didn’t think the price was cheap and that she could probably have bought just as nice a carpet back in Australia.
Shopping for Turkish Carpets in Turkey
If you’re in the market for a Turkish carpet, do your homework and have an understanding of what carpet costs are back home. But price is not the only consideration. Two carpets may have the same pattern, but the finer and more expensive carpet has more knots per square inch. Then again, handwoven and silk carpets fetch a higher price than machine produced ones.
In Turkey, you’ll certainly have your pick of the finest silk, rare antique, oversize rugs or Anatolian kilims, but you’ll need to know what price you are prepared to pay as bargaining is expected. We bought a nice traditional Turkish carpet years ago and it is still sitting in our living room, a reminder of our wonderful tour of Turkey.