Hereke carpets

Category: General

Jozan Magazine has asked Solveigh Calderin, Brandenburg, to tell about the Royal Court Manufacture in Hereke and their connection to contemporary Hereke carpets and rugs.

by Solveigh Calderin.

Hereke is a former small fisherman’s village near Istanbul in Turkey and genuine Hereke Carpets and rugs are knotted in this small town.

To understand what a “genuine Hereke” means, we have to go a little bit into the history of the Ottoman Empire, back to 1839, when the young Abdulmejid came back from France, where he was been educated, to succeed his father Sultan Mahmud II, who died too early at the age of 54.

Sultan Abdulmejid I was exalted by the modernity of the French society and tried to absorb parts of their comforts into his Empire. He decided to build the Dolmabahçe Palace at the Marmara Sea in Istanbul in an European style of his time. However, he did not just copied the European style, but integrated it into his Ottoman (Turk) tradition. So the Dolmabahçe Palace is a harmonious combination of styles in the modern Europe and the traditional Ottoman Empire.

Dolmabahce Palace, the Ceremoniel Hall (Jozan archive photo)

To produce the curtains, upholstery and carpets for his palace, Sultan Abdulmejid I established the Royal Court Manufacture in Hereke in 1843, which at this time was a small fishing village near Istanbul, reachable from Istanbul over the Marmara Sea.

Sultan Abdulmejid I, who now owned the Royal Court Manufacture in Hereke, assembled the best designers and masters of hand-knotting art in Hereke to develop new designs and to knot the finest carpets for his palace.

After he had equipped his palace with carpets, the production was used as gifts for kings, princess, noblemen, statesmen and diplomats from all over the world, who came to visit the Ottoman Court. The Sultan alone decided, who should be honored with one of them.

At the end of the 19th century, when the genuine Hereke rugs became more and more famous and the request for the fine, colourful and harmonious carpets and rugs increased, it was allowed for some trusted carpet dealers in Istanbul to sell a limited number of these artworks.

After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 the Royal Court Manufacture in Hereke was closed and the carpet production came almost to an end. Only a very few families continued this tradition.

Today the former Royal Court Manufacture is a museum, where the process and production of the Hereke and other carpets and rugs as well as the history of the Royal Court Manufacture are shown.

Hereke Royal Court Manufacture

The visit of the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1894 played an important role in the history of the Hereke carpets. He brought the chemical colours to Turkey – and mainly to Hereke. These chemical colours allowed the producer to use more nuanced colours and it was possible to create new, even more beautiful patterns.

Around 1950 some families in Hereke started once more to produce the genuine Hereke carpets – and especially the awesome Hereke silk rugs, which are not only unique due to their origin, but also by their high knot density.

Today, as for more than 150 years ago, the genuine Hereke silk rugs are counted to the most valuable silk rugs in the world.

Today the most valuable and perfect Hereke rugs are knotted by Han Hali in Hereke, family owned in four generations.

Solveigh Calderin,

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