This is Kübra from K’ai&Vrosi team. Today, I will be introducing Turkey’s hand loomed fabric which belongs to the Black Sea Region located in the northeastern part of Turkey. This fabric is known and called peştemal/peshtemal.
Peştemal is striking in its original colours of black, red, white and yellow, and its striped patterns. The women of Black Sea have been weaving and using this fabric for centuries in ritualist ceremonies and everyday uses such as to cover nuts or tea during harvest, a shawl, as a protective cloth to cover a baby cradle and even during pregnancy.
The Black Sea region is known for strong, hard working females and we believe that peştemal reflects their character, acting as a best friend to women in its presence throughout their lives. From the cold weather of the mountains to their warm homes.
Like other hand made textiles, peştemal has a long production process from start to finish. After ikat dyeing the yarns, peştemal’s are woven with a width of 1m on the loom, 2354 knots are tied one by one by hand.
Due to mass production, peştemal has become just like any other material and is increasingly losing its culture and heritage. Factories have taken away the history of peştemal in the region, however, there remain a number of weavers in the villages - weaving in their home where they sustain this valuable tradition.
In its original form, peştemal was made of hemp cord and silk yarn and dyed with plants. As the hemp started to be planted less over time, cotton became the main material instead of hemp and silk. The raw materials have changed from hemp to cotton.
Weaving started for a reason a long long time ago: to protect the human body from cold weather. People found a solution to cover their body. They benefited from their nature and created a basic handloom with brushwood and used the animal’s hair.
The fact that the geographical formations, climate and vegetation differs in each continent is just a part of the puzzle. The story of textiles demonstrates that even though weaving is universal, we make it local with history. So far, we’ve realised that there is an untold, hidden story on every fabric. This could be about daily life, war, love or death. It is a language itself for the weavers.
As we get more amazed by the variety of fabrics all around the world, we feel proud to maintain our tradition through a contemporary perspective.
In K’ai&Vrosi, our founder Çiğdem Kacar Selimoğlu started her journey five years ago with the intention of introducing and preserving peştemal by designing leather bags mixed with mentioned fabric and region's most known material wicker baskets.
Made by craftspersons, our bags are the actual proof of a living culture. In our homeland, we align a cultural value with the spirit of time.
Text and images courtesy of Kübra of K’ai&Vrosi
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