The Magnificent Carpet

Regarded as the world’s most prestigious award in the field of carpets, ‘America’s Magnificent Carpet Award’ went Mesut İncelioğlu in Turkey.

Antique carpets from the classical period are either exhibited in museums or preserved in private collections, and owning one of these unattainable pieces is of inestimable value for a carpet enthusiast. We talked with Mesut İncelioğlu about the two carpets, Samsun and Zara, that were deemed worthy of this prestigious award. Part of a 500-piece collection, they were six years in the making and exhibit all the beauty characteristic of hand-woven textiles.

Can you tell us something about the process of preparing prize-winning carpets?
We cooperate with producers of hand-woven textiles all over Turkey to find and procure examples. One of our primary aims is to contribute to the preservation of the art of the carpet and to encourage new initiatives. Carrying out a project with other organizations that share the aim of adapting classical period Ottoman carpets to our day and then presenting those carpets, each one of which is a work of art in terms of its patterns, combination of colors and number of knots, is a source of pride for us and at the same time one of the key factors in our success.

What kinds of materials are used in the carpets?
The wool and the dye are the key factors that determine the quality of hand-woven carpets. For quality manufacturing, the newest and cleanest wool is collected in spring and  spun into thread by hand. Thread obtained in this way is both more durable and more versatile than machine-produced thread. Since the short fibers are eliminated when spinning thread by hand, a stronger thread is obtained from the long fibers. The thread used for weaving carpets is dyed with vegetables dyes in the most beautiful natural colors. When quality materials are combined with fine workmanship, every carpet produced becomes a work of art.

We see a lot of different patterns in carpets. What do they all mean?
It is the pattern that most impresses a person when he is looking at a carpet. The presentation of floral motifs with calligraphic perfection and the masterful intermeshing of geometric shapes give carpets artistic value. When a person comes under the initial visual impact of the art of weaving it means he has taken the first step on a journey into an enchanting new world of signs and symbols. As he unravels the significance of those symbols, he begins to understand the social and cultural life of the region where the carpet was produced. Rising into the sky, birds that destroy harmful pests in the fields have always had a place in carpets. Among them we see the eagle, a frequent symbol of authority, peacock feathers with their evil eye motifs, and the rooster, a symbol of fertility, as well as ox-head motifs whose horns are associated with power and strength.  Since it is impossible to depict such creatures individually in woolen carpets, which do not have a large number of knots, they tend to be represented by geometric patterns that symbolize a characteristic part of the body.