Haiku in Color Kilims of Anatolia

Sumru Krody

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The nomadic Anatolian women, descended from Turkmen nomads and their settled kin created colorful, visually stunning kilims that communicate much about the aesthetic choices they made in decorating their tents and surroundings. Color, composition, and size make these textiles captivating to today’s viewers, but Anatolian kilims hold importance far beyond their contemporary visual impact. Most importantly, they are the only surviving, tangible evidence of their makers’ nomadic lifestyle. This is a remarkable legacy, given that the female creators of kilims did not know how to read or write, let alone have formal arts education. It is highly ironic that in spite of the patriarchal social constraints, it is their work, and no other lasting cultural manifestation, that gives testament to their centuries-long way of life. Although deciphering the meaning of Anatolian kilims is what this presentation aims, there is no denying that Anatolian kilims, with their bold but simple coloration, large scale, and skillfully balanced designs have a very strong visual power for contemporary eyes. The beauty and mystery that surrounds their origin, history, and designs serve to amplify this aesthetic power.

Sumru Belger Krody, Senior Curator, George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum

Sumru joined The Textile Museum in 1994. Born in Izmir, Turkey, she specializes in the late antique and textiles from the Islamic Lands. As senior curator, she leads the curatorial department of The Textile Museum. She also serves as editor-in-chief of The Textile Museum Journal. She is curator for the 2018 exhibitions, Binding the Clouds: The Art of Central Asian Ikat and A Nomad’s Art: Kilims of Anatolia. Sumru has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions, including most recently Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories (2015); The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art (2012); and Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (2010). She is the author or the co-authored of seven exhibition-related publications: A Nomad’s Art: Kilims of Anatolia (2018), Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories (2015), The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art (2012); Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats (2010), Harpies, Mermaids, and Tulips: Embroidery of the Greek Islands and Epirus Region (2006). Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets (2002), and Flowers of Silk and Gold: Four Centuries of Ottoman Embroidery (2000).