An Abbreviated History of Kilim and Flat Weave Rugs

The Celebrated Weaving Style and Rug & Kilim’s Collection

The common denominator of nearly all of our lines, and the passion from which we found our name, lies in our unparalleled Kilim rug collection with selections from all over the world in both the most celebrated and unsung designs. In our antique and vintage collections our Persian, Turkish, and Moroccan Kilim collections alone enjoy rarity, versatility, and beauty with constant additions.

In line with Josh’s pioneering spirit, our flat weave line in Rug & Kilim’s Scandinavian collection enjoys fresh, invigorating designs and a durable body we’ve come to consider the hallmark of this collection; never buckling underfoot like traditional Kilims and blending a beautiful variety of yarns for a high-quality wool. While all Kilim rugs are united under the flat-weaving technique that has been adopted and specialized from culture to culture over time, some of the most significant ancestral Kilim rugs can be found among the varied tribes and regions stretching back to Anatolia/Turkey, Persia, Europe, Scandinavia, and Africa—all home to celebrated variations of flat weaving Josh Nazmiyal has studied and collected among Rug & Kilim’s Antique & Vintage, Kilim & Flat Weave, and Moroccan Collections to name a few. Needless to say, Josh’s devotion to learning the intricacies and histories of the style have, likewise, inspired pillars of our most well-received private collections, notably including our Scandinavian Flat Weave collection among the homes for contemporary and modern Kilim worth noting in our archives:

Turkish Kilim

            As the practice of flat-weaving and Kilim rugs was developed between the 7th and 18th century, ancestral Turkey was among the first homes to the style alongside the tribes and regions of Persia, Kurdistan, Europe, and surrounding regions. Traditional Turkish Kilim  exemplify the variations of the pileless rug style from region to region, while the general style since antiquity was known for bold, tribal-style geometry that would go on to influence a number of styles of Kilim in other parts of the world. To the collector, antique Turkish Kilim often celebrate rich reds and earth tones, a dignified traditional pallet gradually giving way to the more lively, transitional variations seen more commonly in vintage kilim rugs highlighting the varieties of natural yarns available to a weaver. Some of our favorite selections, both long-time and recent, prefer the regional Kilim rugs hailing from the cities and provinces of Central Anatolia, the Aegean territories, the Mediterranean territories, and the Eastern Anatolian territories among the fully encompassing geography represented in our antique, vintage, and modern Turkish Kilim rugs.

Favorites from Central Anatolia, Aegean, and Mediterranean Turkey:

Coming to represent the full spectrum of regional Kilims from each major section of ancestral and present-day Turkey, some of our rarest and favorite traditional and transitional selections have come from the Sivas, Kayseri, Konya, Afyon, Denizli, Bergama, Antalya, and Fethiye  regions of Central Anatolia, the Aegean territories, and the Mediterranean region respectively. Beyond Josh’s own reputation for hand-choosing each Kilim to join his collection, the classic and luxury rug communities have arguably recognized these particular ancestral Kilim centers of Central Anatolia with the utmost regard for quality, colorway variation, and diversity of pattern—though only representing a fraction of the Turkish rug centers in our Kilim & Flat Weave Collection.

Sivas Kilim Rugs

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A vintage mid-century Sivas Kilim runner from our collection, rich with notes of vermillion and burnt red beneath playful classic geometry and soothing stripe patterns.

Often favoring a thicker weave, two of the most prevailing flat-weaving techniques among Sivas Kilim rugs include the plain weave and the slit weave, with design preferences heavily favoring bright colors, rippling geometry from the center outward, and a subtly distinct approach to medallion patterns in both the small-size and large-size area rugs produced there. Many of the Sivas rarities Josh has found on his frequent sabbaticals in Turkey have been in exceptional if not pristine condition. A noteworthy portion of the vintage mid-century runners among our current Turkish Kilim lines have included vintage Sivas Kilim.

Kayseri Kilim Rugs

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Among the select silk pieces from our Kayseri line, dually enjoying the classic family’s preference of compartmentalized designs with a similar sensibility to Persian garden rug designs.

Remaining among the regions known as the best Kilim and rug centers alike in Turkey today, Kayseri Kilim offer some of the most celebrated traits of the surrounding Central Anatolian territories. Among their distinctions, a portion of their classic and modern Kilim rugs are the only-known Kilim to feature silk from time to time in their construction—heavily favoring the slit weave in the antique Kilims while both the classic and modern Kayseri Kilim rugs often favor geometric repetition with more emphasis on colorway variation. Kayseri Kilim have a notable edge and tribal spirit, particularly present in the vintage transitional Kilim rugs we’ve seen of this region—another ancestral trade center ever sought-after in the institutions and museums of hand-made rugs.

Konya Kilim Rugs

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Connoisseurs will note the uncommon pink accent in this Konya Kilim rug from Rug & Kilim, calling back to the diversity of traditional and transitional influences in their historic design preferences.

A former capital city to the Seljuk Turks in its long history of hosting varied empires, Konya has always been a notable territory for the Muslim community with one of the most noteworthy abundances of rug-making centers in antiquity and modern day. Home to slit weave, plain weave, and even some jijim Kilim rugs, the wide reach of Konya rugs plays an important role in the similar diversity their known for, with many experts divisive on the most widely regarded signifiers of a Konya Kilim rugs outside of confirmation from the source. Identification often lies in the quality and meticulous detail to the connoisseur, while the new interior designer and neophyte collector can easily find the nomadic approaches to color and graph from the neighboring regions of Central Anatolia—with Konya perhaps exemplifying what it means to be a center of trade in regard to Kilim rugs among its many forms of commerce and cultural exchange. Many hands have traded techniques and traits over time in the region, but the value in size and color diversity Kilim area rugs from this background enjoy cannot be understated, and the time spent searching for one with a trusted vendor is rewarded in the aforementioned diversity, and quality, in equal parts.

Afyon Kilim Rugs

From the Aegean region in Western Anatolia, Afyon shares a similar diversity to Konya in its history of changing imperial rulership—though the signifiers of the Afyon Kilim are more widely agreed upon (particularly in the ancestral prevalence of the “finger-like protrusions that extend outwards from medallions or from other geometric shapes employed in the designs.

Equal passion and dedicated service our clients know us by, Josh takes pride in our restoration services like those that went into bringing this antique Sivas Kilim rug back to life.

Often called a parmakli among historians and collectors, this symbol is widely believed to signify fingers, fences, mountain ranges, and other varied cultural interpretations among the students of Kilim rugs. Afyon Kilim symbology arguably exemplifies the unsung cultural context needed to read the classic Turkish Kilim—famed for maternal motifs, protective magical symbols, and heavy rectilinear geometry adjacent to the tribal styles of other cultures that have borrowed from Turkey’s vast array of symbols. The more common contemporary and modern Afyon Kilim rugs favor lighter hues similar to that of bordering Anatolian rug centers, and the wool employed in hand-made Kilims has been renowned for its fine quality and durability among collectors. Some of the favorite antique and vintage Afyon Kilim of our own collection have

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Color catches the eye before anything in the many arresting qualities of this Afyon Kilim rug from our Kilim & Flat Weave Collection. The geometry here exemplifies the aforementioned protrusions, often the signifier for ancestral Afyon Kilim rugs.

enjoyed an abundance of pristine condition owing no small debt to this factor, though our own process in preserving, maintaining, and restoring our vintage collection is worth noting in the persistent quality of our Afyon line. Some between the worlds of luxury rugs and interior design might argue that the marriage of playful color and consistent repetition contributes to the contemporary and modern appeal of the Afyon Kilim in its halcyon day.

Persian Kilim Rugs

Friends and colleagues who’ve known Josh from the earliest days of Rug & Kilim know he was recognized early in his career for the largest Oriental rug collection in the United States, with a significant presence in one of Josh’s debatably strongest backgrounds—Persian rugs.             Though a misconception exists today that tribal and regional Persian rug makers were not known for their Kilim, the opposite is true among those who’ve studied the most celebrated tribes and territories responsible for the Persian Kilim rug’s reputation among collectors and scholars—owing much of that fame to the Bidjar, Saveh, Verneh, Senneh, Kalat, Qazvin, Kermanshah, and Baluch weavers among the many names one could drop. While even the apprentice will see the subtle overlaps between Persian, Turkish, and European sensibilities in Persian Kilim rugs found in the market today, connoisseurs have come to appreciate the place Persian Kilim rugs have held in history, given that the term Kilim originates from the Persian word “gelīm” (though some debate the further-back origins of the term predating the Persian Empire).

Bidjar Kilim Rugs

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Collectors will enjoy the subtle human pictorial motifs in the background of this vintage Bidjar Kilim rug from our Persian Kilim rug collection, culturally believed to signify the present and general life of the weaver in antique and vintage Kilim of this umbrella term.

            When rug vendors refer to the broad label of Northwestern Persia, the Bidjar are included both in the eponymous township as well as the general term that had been adopted to describe rugs and Kilim rugs from the general region. While Bidjar pile rugs were known for durability and quality, lesser-understood Bidjar Kilim often embody the spirit of striking intricacy with more obsequious, rich earth tones and medallion-style patterns repeated to complement a versatile nature that persists in their reputation to the present day.

Verneh Kilim Rugs

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The seamless transition of the rich burgundy colorway into the vertical border fringes of this Verneh Kilim both exemplifies and idealizes the favored approach to this technique among those we’ve seen in our collection so far.

In their history, Verneh Kilim rugs saw a greater attention in the luxury rug community following the 19th-Century styles that arose and simultaneously signified the style to the Persian rug fan. Sometimes thought to be the ancestor to the contemporary paneled Kilims seen in the Persian Kilim market today, Verneh Kilim rugs enjoy an abundance of similar traits to their pile rug counterparts in little discriminiation between rich and transitional colorways, though many we’ve seen have favored repetitious animal and geometric motifs against a solid background with greater emphasis than almost any other Persian rug or Persian Kilim we’ve studied in our collection.

Baluch Kilim Rugs

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The precision and neutrality in this exceptional Baluch Kilim from our collection remarks a trend we’ve seen emerge among the weavers of this respective origin over time.

            Baluch Persian rugs, ever notable in discussions of the most distinct Persian tribal rug styles, share an interesting relationship with their Baluch Kilim counterparts both in history and in our collection. While the ancestral Baluch tribal style is known to favor less definition in geometry and more attention to lush pile height and rich color, many of the Baluch Kilim rugs we’ve seen over the years have favored the latter trait with greater emphasis than the lively tribal geometry. To wit, some of the Baluch flat weave rugs we’ve seen in recent acquisitions since the turn of the 20th century have exemplified precision and forgiving nature in their reputation as a notable Persian Kilim.

European Kilim Rugs

            Among the wide-spanning pride Josh has taken in the cultivation of Rug & Kilim’s European Collection, the European Kilim represented have always held a special place among his sensibilities as a connoisseur of the market in the last 40 years. Among Europes many celebrated flat weaves, the Aubusson—especially the 18th-Century Aubusson—reigns among Josh’s favorites in the antique and contemporary Kilim market for their notorious large size, graceful sensibilities, and consistent quality sought after by both apprentices and aficionados alike in French rugs and decoration. Equally noteworthy in the history of European Kilim favored in our collection are the Romanian and Russian Kilim rugs—the latter of which has been known for particularly celebrated tribal variations over time while the former two borrow a distinctive French sensibility that permeates their contemporary Kilims as it has their antiques we’ve seen.

Aubusson Kilim Rugs

            Often synonymous with neoclassical terminology, to say the Aubusson Kilim is the most famed flat weave in Europe is to meet little resistance from the luxury rug industry and the new home decorator. Named for the eponymous territory where rugs and tapestries have been celebrated since the 15th Century, Aubusson Kilim connote a feeling of luxury and idyllic European grace, with our favored 18th-Century counterparts favoring intricate all-over medallion patterns, cartouches, and precision of symmetry from the center outward.

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One of Rug & Kilim’s most well-received inspirations from the European Collection is this take on the 18th-Century Aubusson Kilim from our current stock, embodying the love of cartouche patterns in plays of rich and forgiving colorways.

            Having been designed for aristocracy and royalty in their earliest days, there is a misconception that the Aubusson rug style is synonymous with a bold grandeur when the opposite is more often true. Aubusson Kilim rugs favor cream and neutral, forgiving tones with equal frequency to the more lavish reds, blues, and other bombastic colors available, and more often than not an Aubusson can represent the ideal quiet complement to an interior as it could complete the opulence of a castle hall. The style is so beloved that many reputed workshops, including our own, have adopted the style in their contemporary rugs made for the market today.

Scandinavian Kilim Rugs

            Moving to the home of another of the most recognizable styles in luxury Kilim rugs, the Scandinavian tradition of hand-made rugs since the 10th century eventually included some of the most celebrated Scandinavian Kilim still on the market today—the inspiration behind the flat weave rugs in Rug & Kilim’s own award-winning Scandinavian Collection and the innovations enjoyed therein.

            Some of the most revered productions from names like Marta Maas Fjetterstrom, Barbro Nilsson, Marianne Richter, Anna-Maria Hoke, Carl Melmsten and more remain among the most desired auction items in the world of luxury rugs for their unmistakable colorway preferences, mid-century modern sensible geometry, and quality of craft despite the size limitations of the 1930s-1950s during the renaissance of Scandinavian Modernism.

Our Modern Scandinavian Kilim & Flat Weave

While each texture and weave in the Scandinavian Collection enjoys a culmination of honorific and innovative elements, it’s fair to argue that the Scandinavian Flat Weave line has become the most exempletive of honoring the weaving traditions and preserving the spirit while still innovating the process for a modern audience.

            Quickly becoming a new hallmark of the line, each flat weave in our Scandinavian Collection sports a variety of undyed, natural yarns visible to both the connoisseur and the neophyte. The more prevailing natural color—interwoven like a series of visually unexpected accents in the body of our Scandinavian Kilim—plays a major role in creating that gentle distinction of an abrashed look departing from other solid-color geometric patterns with clear borders and proportions. This unique technique of ours was meant to be the negotiation between the transitional rug appeal of the mid-century modern style and an homage to the traditional Scandinavian rug and flat weave technique, in which excess and leftover yarn would be interwoven in an otherwise ‘complete’ piece (connoting some of the bold colorways seen in the vintage rugs on auction today). Alongside honoring the pioneers of the style, this weaving technique ultimately lends a sense of character and distinguished movement to the mid-century geometry in our Scandinavian flat weaves. While none who share our respect for the style would consider mid-century Scandinavian flat weaves monotonous by any perspective, the incorporation of natural yarns ensures a soulful look unique to each flat weave in considering the modern designer and decorator alike—where the student of the style might have a greater appreciation for the technique’s cultural significance, those new to Scandinavian flooring can still appreciate the thoughtful look of chic without barrier or pretense.

            An already-proven hallmark of the Scandinavian flat weaves we create, conversely, is undoubtedly the durability and weight of the body that’s been achieved in the weaving process. Having known every major style of Kilim and flat weave for more than 40 years of collecting and studying the cultures of renown, Rug & Kilim has developed a noteworthy, proprietary construction that has proven itself on the modern market in the current luxury designer’s foremost considerations. While no small faction of our clientele and colleagues know and seek the style they associate with Scandinavian rugs, an equal audience has come to rely on this aspect of the line for functionality and ease underfoot (form follows function). Nonetheless, the marriage of practicality and iconic mid-century aesthetic has proven itself to the market, as well as to the international carpet and design community, in bringing Scandinavian flat weave rugs to the current designer—complemented by a refined approach to an impressive time on loom considering the audience for custom rugs that makes up an equally impressive number of our Scandinavian loyalists. The introduction of outdoor and all-natural hemp and aloe pieces that have been introduced since—particularly in our emerging archive of samples—consider exterior design, conservation, and material purity as unignorable precedents of thoughtful modern design that we’re equally proud to present to the luxury rug industry.

Moroccan Kilim Rugs

            Though they reside in the lesser-known families of Kilim, the flat weave carpets from the tribal Moroccan rug weavers that’ve endured to the market today are no-less worthy of celebration than the more widely understood counterparts. It’s worth noting that while the most popular Moroccan Kilim rugs have departed from the North African style’s predisposition to bold geometric symbolism, their approach to lively color and natural yarn variation remains a signifier of the celebrated Moroccan style—learning toward more transitional colorway pallets with less defined but equally intricate patterns.

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An uncommon large-sized vintage Moroccan Kilim from our collection.

            What’s worth noting is that,—in broaching the lengthy discussion behind how any of the Kilim and flatweave families we’ve mentioned have been reproduced in the modern day—the more reserved adaptations of the Moroccan style favoring minimalist tribal geometry and texture of frenzied color remark the traits arguably most popular in contemporary and modern Moroccan Kilim on the market today. Turkish looms—ancestral cousins to the Moroccan style in both pile and Kilim rugs—have particularly taken to attacking the eternal need for Moroccan style in the unique large-size Kilim emerging from Turkey today (while modern Moroccan looms capable of producing larger sizes continue to favor the equally gorgeous pile rugs of their ancestry with new capabilities).

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An example of the Turkish Moroccan style Kilim rugs that have joined our own collection, enjoying spacious dimensions and minimalist color and pattern appealing to a modern audience.

Other Notable Contemporary and Modern Kilim Rugs

            Though there’s a lot to be excited about in the wide-spanning contemporary and modern approaches to flat weaving, in the same way that our extensive knowledge of classic styles and collections has influenced our custom creations we’ve often believed the same can be said for today’s Kilim on the market. The desire for the antique and tribal Kilim remains in and beyond our world, the innovations and trends Josh has begun to favor in our own Kilim & Flat Weave Collection promise show some of the most promising, desirable new crazes in the style.

Patchwork Kilim Rugs

A predominantly Turkish style borrowing from an interesting mix of cultures, Rug & Kilim’s own Patchwork Kilim Collection is no less worthy of its own discussion in the versatility alone—detracting nothing from the quality achieved by our long-standing partner loom in Turkey.

            Designers will note that the typically loud, outstanding colorway stripes play with the forgiving base of cream and beige tones from piece to piece in that they represent an ideal choice for the modern decorator, able to play off a greater variety of modern furniture without losing a place in discerning classic interiors. Bearing similarities to the paneled style favored in overlapping Turkish and Persian rugs during and beyond the 1950s, our patchwork flat weaves promise equal value to their joyful contemporary appeal, further lending durability that has begun to prove itself to the market like our Scandinavian Kilim has in recent years.

Conservation Kilim Rugs: Vintage Made Modern

The adaptation of a classic tribal chevron pattern has never been seen with this approach to color and size in a Kilim like that of our modern 10×14 Kilim, pictured above.

Another new addition to our Kilim & Flat Weave Collection is a line of contemporary and modern Kilim rugs rewoven from the yarns of classic vintage textiles to make entirely new, undeniably appealing flat weaves like those we’ve added to our archive. Beyond the intrigue of their construction, the resulting designs have an intriguing sense of movement through elements of juxtaposition, colorway diversity, and subtle texture variations complementing the aforementioned yarn variations—with different approaches in stock pieces ranging between perfectly forgiving and fabulously arresting. Surprisingly, some of the bolder stock pieces have favored adaptations of classic tribal patterns, while the more contemporary-leaning Kilim rugs favor innovation less than subtle homage.

            Our principal Josh has always striven to educate his peers and colleagues in the world of interior design on the lesser-known possibilities like that of this iconic look, marrying the idyllic elements of a modern and classic moods in a fashion as attractive as it is unexpected; the proud work in partnership with our respected loom in India.

An Ever-Growing Collection

            Though we’re excited to elaborate on the classics and share the new additions, we take just as much pride in reminding our colleagues that our Kilim & Flat Weave Collection is just as much of a growing collection as our other respective collections. We celebrate having the largest Kilim archive of any major vendor in the industry today, but we strive as much to educate ourselves today as Josh has over his 40 years of learning the many-faceted history and state of flat-weaving art around the world. From discussing textiles to subcollections we’ve encountered and have yet to mention in our discussions at all, the art of Kilim and flat weave rug making is one we’re always eager to discuss with our peers, new and old alike, and we invite those same colleagues to tell us their favorite adaptations of the style with the same fervor with which we invite them to visit our showroom and see the archive today.


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The Scandinavian Collection presents geometric designs delineated with varying pile heights for tactile emphasis, with numerous fresh, refined patterns woven in a unique variety of yarns and classic colorways. Often referred to by Josh Nazmiyal as “a new language in design” the modernist collection celebrates our unprecedented textural diversity, a formidable Kilim line never seen in these spacious sizes, and an exciting departure from traditional geometry that simultaneously embodies the original design.

Some of the most well-received patterns have drawn inspiration from mid-century pioneers of the aesthetic, reimagined with Josh’s deep reverence of the style and his drive to present the vintage style with the utmost quality and possibility. To that end essential functional concerns were innovated, especially in the flat weaves where the original pieces were fewer, smaller and more vulnerable to folding underfoot and we’ve achieved a durable body resistant to buckling or shifting like traditional flat weaves. A number of our Scandinavian Kilim pieces likewise enjoy a subtle, intriguing colorway variation created through the aforementioned blend of undyed, natural yarns, lending to a unique, tasteful sense of movement complementing the classic geometry.

Our goal was to ensure that the soul of Scandinavian design aesthetic in both functionality and minimalism was observed, while durability, beauty and restraint were addressed in kind.



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