On my trip to Cappadocia, Turkey this spring I had the good fortune to meet Serdal Karakus. Over the course of a week, Serdal gave me an education in Kilim rugs- the history of the weaving process, as well as an over-view of the symbology.
It happened like this:
Ricky Cohete and I were tired of eating at tourist cafes. Simple as that. "I want to eat where someone's grandmother would eat" One of us shared out loud. We scoured the village with no luck. Before long, I saw a beautiful orange rug, and went into a shop to inquire about it. That is when I met Serdal. He had lived in Paris, and I had lived in Paris, and so we got to talking about french culture, and about rugs, and beautiful things, and French Women, and .... He invited Ricky and I to eat dinner with him. Now I am aware that this happens regularly in some cultures and settings, but each time it does, it still seems magical to me. Sharing a meal with a stranger is still about the most beautiful thing in the world.
While we ate the dinner his mother had prepared (NO JOKE!)... we continued chatting. He explained to us a lot about Turkish culture, answering many of our questions. Eventually we got talking about rugs. He took us back into his show room and spent a few more hours teaching us about his beautiful collection of rugs. That was a dream come true as well. I have always been fascinated by tribal craftsmanship, and it was beautiful to have the nuances explained. Each piece in his shop was custom made- by a specific person- for a specific person in a specific place. Some were designed with little squares cut out to avoid a tent-pole, or with a specific pattern to reference a family member or historical event.
Serdal has been collecting, and subsequently dealing rugs for many years. He has lived in several parts of Turkey, and can read the a Kilim rug just like a book. I have always wanted to know more about this craft, and our chance encounter was the perfect opportunity. Serdal is a kindred spirit, who is passionate about this history and story of beautiful, handmade goods. (and of course, now I know where to go for rugs)
You can find many of Serdal's rugs here... but of course, nothing comes close to seeing them all in person. You will have to visit Goreme, Cappadocia for that.
Jonathan Randall Grant