HISTORY & CULTURE:
Milas Carpets, that bear characteristics proper to the district of Milas in Muğla province in southwestern Turkey. There are also a number of variants within the definition of Milas carpets. These variants are called under such names as Ada Milas, Patlıcanlı, Cıngıllı Cafer, Sazköy Gelinlik, Gemisuyu, Elikoynunda depending on the style, colors and other characteristics.
MILAS REGION AND THE TURKMEN TRADITION
Milas is one of the regions in Turkey whose inhabitants kept their Türkmen heritage in its liveliest (the term Türkmen is often used in Turkey to denote ties to the former semi-nomadic lifestyle). As aside clothing and traditions, this heritage also includes the art of carpet weaving. It is generally admitted that a distinctive breed of Milas carpets came into existence in the 16th century starting with the “seccade”, prayer carpets which are smaller in dimension. By the 18th century and the 19th century, two types of Milas carpets, traditional and antique style, could be distinguished on the basis of their colors and designs.
CLASSICAL MILAS CARPETS
A Milas carpet (the one on the left, with theKoran and “rahle” -the reading stool-) in an 1890 painting by Osman Hamdi Bey the founder of Ottoman Archeological Museum in Istanbul, “Two young girls visiting a shrine”.
Classical Milas carpets are those that can be said to have kept the essentials of the original 16th century prayer carpets, with a usually rectangular niche (“mihrâb”) in their fore to indicate the spot where the front of the faithful touches the rug at the moment of kneeling during the prayer. The inner frame of this niche is garnished with plant motifs and above the niche is a specially designed field called âlem, with references to heavenly promises.
The type called “Ada Milas” is one of the oldest examples of classical Milas carpets. The name may have derived, according to different versions, from the queen Ada of Caria, a native of this very region and a contemporary of Alexander the Great, or from a hypothesis according to which this type of carpets was first woven by immigrants from the island of İstanköy (Cos), “ada” meaning “island” in Turkish. After the 20. Century, a new style of Milas carpets are waved in the area of Karaova, depicted with the footprint of hen on the carpets, indicate that these carpets has been waven in a warmer area of Milas.
MILAS CARPETS IN BAROQUE STYLE
Baroque style Milas carpets bear the echoes of the European influence densely introduced in the art and architecture of the Ottoman Empire starting with the reign of the SultanAbdulmecid I in early 19th century. In these, zigzagging flower designs replace the orderly and abstract motifs of classical Milas carpets.
MEDALLED MILAS CARPETS
Yet another group of Milas carpets, this time distinguished on the basis of their initial conception, are the ones referred to as “medalled”. Their prototype has appeared in the village of Karacahisar near Milas, and this village and its vicinity is still producing carpets based on the same pattern, which are also called Karacahisar carpets, considered inside the category of Milas carpets. Instead of the niche and the alem placed in the fore as in the prayer carpet tradition, Karacahisar carpets are characterized by a centrally situated and larger field called “belly” (“göbek”) with medal-like designs around, as well as abstract patterns of leaves and branches which are woven along the sides of the carpet. They are woven on a bed of white and red, regardless of the proportion these colors may occupy at the final stage of the finished product. Prayer carpet types are usually woven in a tighter manner, and Karacahisar carpets looser.
For the final colors, brown, peculiar tones of reddish brown and of a very dark yellow are distinctive tints of Milas carpets. Wool has established itself as the main material for Milas carpets as of the 18th century, and the natural dyes are still widely used. Although industrial dyes of our day can more or less fully replace the savour and resistance of naturally obtained dyes, natural dyes will mature in the same manner as traditional carpets.
The yellow is obtained from leaves of peach and apricot trees, the distinctive reddish brown (which is also frequently encountered in artefacts dating from the Carians, the inhabitants of the same region in antiquity) from Erica vulgaris, the brown from walnut leaves, the very dark, brownish yellow from acorns, the green from mint, and the wool is blackened by leaving it in the ground for a week.
MILAS KILIMS AND PATCHWORKS
Kilims are flatwaves without knots, that means only warp and weft style. Milas kilims are produced generally in the area of Pınarlıbelen in present times. Typical colors and motifs are red and geometric. Because of supply and demand in modern life style patchwork is also available in the latter places.