Silk carpet from mountain village to Qatar Palace

Bursa Silk, which adorned European palaces during the Ottoman period, started to appear in palaces of the world again approximately 2 centuries later with the “Bursa Silk Comes to Life again” project implemented by the Metropolitan Municipality. Within the scope of the project, the “Dancing Girl” model silk carpet, which has been woven with the traditional double-knot Turkish technique known for 4000 years on the loom in Kınık Village of the mountain district of Büyükorhan, today adorns the palace of the Royal Family of Qatar.

Bursa, which was the last stop of the historical silk road in Anatolia and produced silk carpets and fabrics that adorned the palaces of the world, especially Topkapı Palace in the Ottoman period, is showcased again with its world-famous silk after about 2 centuries. In the 15th century, in Bursa, where an average of 150 kilograms of raw silk was produced on hundreds of looms that wove silk, the factories were closed one by one with the removal of the funds on silk in 1991, especially with the entry to the Customs Union, and the villagers, whose cocoons remained, cut mulberry trees. While sericulture, one of the most important parts of Turkish culture, took its place on the dusty shelves of history, the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, which has come into play, returns Bursa silk, which is the most strategic product of the Ottoman Empire and which Europe did not even receive taxes for years, back to its old glorious days.

Original-based Production

The Metropolitan Municipality, which started the “Bursa Silk Comes to Life” project in 2013, started production again after years at the Muradiye Silk Factory, which was first established in 1790 and employed 270 people in its establishment. 35 Romani women were employed in the production, which was completely made by traditional methods. In the second phase of the project, the historical silk weaving factory, abandoned to its fate, was opened as the Umurbey Silk Production and Design Center. A weaving workshop was established in 16 points where mulberry cultivation is widespread in Orhaneli, Harmancık, Keles and Büyükorhan districts, which are the mountain districts of Bursa that lose their most population due to the immigration, and İhsaniye Village of İnegöl. Silk, which has not been produced for years in Bursa, has turned into rare carpets in the skillful hands of peasant women who have received weaving training.

In the world showcase again

Silk carpets, which have been woven with the traditional double-knot Turkish technique known for 4000 years on hand-operated  looms, have 1 million knots in 1 square meter, 38 thousand cocoon fibers per square centimeter and woven in an average of 6.5 months, have started to appear in the world showcase again. Umurbey Silk Production and Design Center Workshops Production Manager Mehmet Ünal said that they attracted great attention in the world-famous Hannover Carpet Fair they attended, and that they sold silk carpets to America, Austria, France, Italy, Germany and Japan upon requests. Stating that the ‘Dancing Girl’ model silk carpet produced in the workshop in Kınık Village of Büyükorhan District was presented as a gift to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamed Al Sani by a family from Istanbul, Ünal said, “The Emir of Qatar liked the carpet so much that they wanted 3 more. We also wove them and sent them. As we learned that they hung one of the carpets on the entrance of the Qatar Parliament Building. In addition, they wanted us to weave carpets for the Great Mosque of Damascus, which was built by Emir’s great-grandfathers and was of great importance for the family. Now our designers are working on the pattern of this mosque. Hopefully, we will soon weave and send it. Bursa Silk is one of the golden arts of the Ottoman Empire. For centuries, Ottoman and European palaces were decorated with this silk. Now, just like in the times of the Ottoman Empire, silk started to be sent to the palaces of kings from here. This is very proud for us, ”

Both culture and employment project

Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Alinur Aktaş reminded that the future vision of Bursa is tourism and stated that Bursa Silk is of great importance in terms of international promotion among the most important cultural values of the city. Stressing that they have implemented important projects to keep traditional handicrafts alive and transfer them to future generations, Mayor Aktaş said, “One of the brands of Bursa, which is the last stop of the historical silk road in Anatolia, is bursa silk. During the Ottoman period, Bursa silk, which adorned European palaces, especially Topkapı, was so valuable that Europe, which taxed the Chinese and Iranian silk, however never taxed Bursa silk. However, with the removal of the funds on silk, factories in Bursa were closed one by one, and cocoon production came to a halt. In fact, silk production has almost never been done in Bursa for the last 30 years. We initiated the “Bursa silk comes to life” project as the Metropolitan Municipality in order to keep Bursa silk, one of the most important values of Turkish culture, alive and transfer it to future generations. We have come a long way in the last 5 years and today we have reached a position where 400 people are employed and production is carried out in 16 workshops in mountain villages that emigrate. The fact that carpets woven from Bursa silk with completely traditional methods are valued in many countries from Germany to America, from Japan to Italy shows how much we are on the right track. Finally, the Emir of Qatar also requested a woven carpet from Bursa silk, registering the Bursa brand in silk. We have determined our vision of the future as tourism, and in this sense, promotion is very important. Bursa silk also strengthens our hand in international promotion.”

Date: 29.11.2018