Turkey: Exquisite ‘postmortem rugs’ brought under care

Tens of thousands of hand-woven "postmortem rugs" -- some being centuries old -- were collected by government officials across Turkey for maintenance and classification to be transferred to the coming generations.

In a common Anatolian tradition, young girls weave rugs as part of their dowry for themselves as well as their future spouses, to be donated to a mosque upon their death.

These masterpieces are believed to provide good deeds for the weaver every time a daily prayer is performed at the mosque.

In a campaign spearheaded by Turkey's General Directorate for Foundations, the names of the weavers as well as the weaving date, dating as far as the 17th century, are determined and archived in both Turkish and Arabic.

More than 30,000 carpets and rugs, collected since 2006, have been brought to a warehouse where they are washed with special machines and classified by art historians.

Zafer Gulbahar, a museum researcher, told Anadolu Agency that thousands of rugs donated to the mosques needed care after years of wear and tear.

Gulbahar said the rugs were among the most common items donated to mosques.

"The rugs are donated in various ways. The first comprise of exquisite pieces ordered by those who are financially able to have the mosque built and donated. The second are from those who are not able to to build a mosque, but donate what they can afford.

"Another way is what we call postmortem rugs, which is a highly common and rooted custom in Anatolia."

The rugs are labelled according to their date and weaver are tracked by radio frequency equipment, Gulbahar said.

"This technique is not common across the country, but it is used as a pilot system by General Directorate for Foundations," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency