Hand-Woven Siirt Mohair Blankets
It has become a tradition for visitors to Siirt to buy a blanket, and to present a blanket to those who leaving Siirt. Blanket making is a venerable handicraft here; however, the expense of the raw material used – mohair – along with the prevalence of factory-produced blankets, is causing artisans and weavers to leave the profession. There were around 300 looms in use in the 1970s; that number has declined to about 70 today.
Mohair obtained by shearing angora goats is shaped into balls and sold. The mohair balls are sorted by blanket weavers according to colours and types. The wool is turned into thin threads by spinning and woven by passing it through cotton threads, preserving that natural colours of pure mohair. These colours are mainly white, black, brown, rust and ochre. After the weaving process, the loose threads are removed by combing the upper surface of the woven product with steel or iron combs. It is then washed, dried and shaped in another brushing with an iron comb.
The Siirt Blanket, one of the most important handicrafts in Siirt and featuring the regional characteristics of South-eastern Anatolia, has a history of more than a century. Originally the fabric used only in “aba” making. Later, artisans began to weave blankets and prayer rugs; today mantles, scarves, headgear, touristic saddlebags, sofa covers and throw pillows are woven. Siirt blankets, popular at home and abroad, hold an important position in both domestic and foreign tourism as keepsakes.
Jirkan rugs (Jirkan kilimi), a craft unique to the region, are also produced in Siirt. Great attention is paid to the product quality of the handmade Jirkan rugs. Natural sheep’s wool and fleece are used as weaving yarn, obtained after washing, combing, and spinning with kirman (turning the wool into yarn). The yarns are then coloured with natural root dyes from various plants. The rugs are handwoven on traditional iron looms. The natural raw materials – pure wool and madder dyes – used for weaving offer great durability; some rugs are known to be almost 400 years old. Although madder-dyed rugs are quite expensive, they become even more beautiful with age, as their colours mature and deepen. While the original dimensions of these rugs were 1.30 meters. x 2.20 meters, they are now produced in a variety of sizes.
Sabat and Cas
To truly feel the heart of the history, touch the rock-carved “cas” houses while strolling along the quaint streets and the ornate narrow passages known as “sabat”.