The next stop on our day in Turkey was at a Turkish Carpet Art Gallery. Our tour group got to witness a traditional carpet presentation. Everyone gathered in a room with the beautiful rugs hanging on the walls and little benches lining the sides. Glasses of apple tea (just like apple cider) were distributed. The tea was wonderfully warm and delicious. I would highly recommend trying a cup if you ever get the chance.
Three men came into the room; one told the tale of the ancient art as the other two picked up each carpet rolled up in the corner and threw them down, ever so artfully. The rugs slapped the floor with a bang. When that happened, the carpets unrolled to show off their wonderful strands of colour, in every colour you could think of.
We were told how many knots per cubic inch, how many months (or years) it took, and how many women worked to complete it. We were told that in order to purchase a rug one must come to Turkey. A picture on the internet cannot show the feel and true colours of these works of art. We were told to get up and feel the threads, to step on them, and look at them from multiple angles. Women are said to be “un-marry-able” until they make a carpet on their own. Each rug told a story and there were thousands of stories.
The Turkish government subsidized the dying art by paying all shipping, taxes, and fees to your home country. The rugs were beautiful. They were available in any colour and pattern you could desire, in both silk and wool. Wool, of course, was more affordable than silk. I loved how the colours shifted if you shook them a certain way.
If we were interested, we could purchase any of the carpets at the end, along with any other item in the store/museum/school. Our guide had told us beforehand that the best way to barter for them was to find two rugs that you liked, ask for the prices of both, and demand the one of lesser value to be thrown in and that you’ll pay full price for the more expensive one. I would have bought one if I had a few thousand dollars at my disposal. I did some research online and prices can range anywhere from $500 to $50,000, depending on the size, material, dyes, and most importantly, knot count.
It is now a great dream of mine to go back one day and purchase one of these timeless works of art. The rugs are truly a piece of incredible artisan, holding up against the test of time. A true Turkish rug can be passed down through generations, only getting better with wear.
Julianna and I got many offers to be traded for camels on our way out of Kusadasi, including the best bid of the day at 100 white camels for the two of us. As a traveler, it is good just to accept this as a part of their culture, and try not to draw too much attention to yourself.
We walked back to the port, hoping silently to someday return and discover more of Turkey. We waived farewell to the country from deck ten as we sailed away. For dinner, we changed into our formal wear to eat in the Edelweiss dining room. I had the garlic soup and tiger shrimp. We had a quiet evening before heading to bed, excited for our stop in Santorini, Greece the next day.