What are kilims, one might well ask? To the uninitiated, they might sound like something exotic out of "The Arabian Nights," and indeed, that may not be very far from the truth. For, kilims are rich, tribal rugs woven by the nomadic tribes of Southern Persia, like Shiraz, Quashgai and Afshaar. Kilims have bold, distinctive patterns, vibrant colours and varied motifs. The fact that they can be readily bought off-the-shelf to adorn one's living spaces, speaks volumes for their affordability. That explains why these marvellous, flatwoven rugs, known as kilims, have become so popular the world over. The Carpet Cellar, which prides itself in keeping the rich heritage of tribal art form alive, now presents their wide range of kilims, inspired from day-to-day life.

Historically, the technique of flat weaving evolved from the basic needs of the earliest civilisations for clothing, shelter and storage and for simple comforts such as floor coverings and pillows. Kilims were important objects of trade and barter, produced as they were, of the finest spun wool and dyes in the ancient world.

Kilims are primarily made of wool, though cotton, silk, and animal hair like goat, camel or horse may sometimes be used in the weave. Unlike the conventional carpet, with its perfect symmetry of design and pattern, kilims are irregular in shape, as family members with varied levels of skill work on them or their particular look. Traditionally, kilims together with jewellery, clothing, tent furnishings and animal tapping, help to form the identity of the village or nomadic tribal group. The motifs and designs on a kilim hold the key to its vintage and origins and have developed out of many different influences and disciplines. The different weaving techniques often determine the style of motifs used for e.g. the Slit weave produces abstract, stepped or crenellated patterns, usually diamond shaped or triangular while Soumak produces flowing patterns.

Another significant influence is Islamic art, which is widely in evidence in the weaves. Of course, the weaver’s oven influences cannot be discounted. His environs, his own personal images, all make their way in the tapestry. But, finally it is colour that gives killims their stand alone appeal. Using natural dyes from plants, animals and minerals, the colours used of killims rarely ever fade, lending brightness to our living spaces.


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