Tulu or Filikli

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Posted by Wendel Swan on December 08, 1998 at 12:54:32:

One of the first postings in this discussion was Pat Weiler's reference to John Wertime's article in Hali 100 on "primitive" pile rugs entitled Back to Basics. I suggest it for reading by all. My interest in this particular topic has evolved for many years as John and I have shared thoughts, theories, examples and platforms on the subject.

Important archeological and historical parallels can be found in Elizabeth Barber's monumental work Prehistoric Textiles. Perhaps some day we can have a discussion about the relevant textiles from Xinjiang that Victor Mair, Elizabeth Barber and Irene Good have brought to our attention. (For those who wish, I can provide other references on this topic later.)

John's article puts the tulus under discussion in the context of other long pile rugs while providing a sound structural description and nomenclature.

According to John and his sources, including Henry Glassie, the word "tulu" simply refers to long pile rugs while "filikli," at least in many parts of Turkey, is the term used for this particular kind of long pile rug made of goat hair that Steve has presented. Filikli refers to female goat hair specifically and Steve's rugs are of long, silken goat hair just as John describes and depicts (see illustration 12).

Many think of goat hair as the coarse, rough stuff used on selvedges on Baluch and Afghanistan weavings but other varieties of goat hair are probably used much more commonly in the structural elements of Central Asian weavings than might be imagined. Many fine Tekke and other Turkmen bags, for example, have goat hair warps.

The tactile qualities of these filikli would convince anyone that goat hair is, indeed, not all coarse and rough. Quite the opposite.

The tulus or filiklis present us once with a "use" question. Saul has observed and suggested some uses, including seating and as a child's blanket, but those before us are clearly too small for wrapping or folding, as some of the larger pieces illustrated in John's article are, and yet the long pile provides the insulating loft that is expected of so-called sleeping rugs.

The group of Turkish rugs called "yataks" is closer to what we consider to floor coverings, but they too are referred to as sleeping rugs. John did not include this group in his article, undoubtedly because they and others of that ilk have evolved in structure and design beyond the parameters of "primitive."

I hope that others can share with us their first-hand knowledge as to how, where and when the tulus and filiklis are used by the people who made them.


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