The Art of Kilim Weaving and Miniature Painting
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Learn about Turkish rug weaving and Ottoman miniature painting at the Anatolian Cultural Festival in LA, with YaKenda McGahee.


Yukenda: Ebru, Turkish rag weaving and ceramic art are among the most popular traditional art forms in Turkey. Folk artists are known to preserve elements of culture and history in their techniques. This next set of artist, do just that, let’s take a look. Turkish rags or kilims are among the most popular rags in the world with highly profitable markets through out the western world. Turkish rags are distinct from Persian rags in their weaving techniques. Zeynep Akbali specializes in silk rags and works with more than 500 threads simultaneously. Zeynep: The work I’m making now is a silk rag, I was 10 years old when I first started doing this and I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I actually make money from my craft, it seems really fun to me. The rag you’re seeing right now has 520 strings on it and it will be 3 meters square. We even have 3000 string rags, 1290 and 1300 string rags, but the one I’m making right now is 520 string rag. At first people use to make this rags to keep warm after that they started to make them as a means to earn money. You need to be creative in making rags. We would like for all designs to pop especially silk rags. The Turkish ones are number one in the world. We want to fill these rags with our beautiful art. We would like to display the different colors and patterns of nature and the weaves of our rag. Yukenda: Here Zeynep demonstrates the working of her loom and weaves a few lines of her complex silk rag. Female: I love seeing how the carpets are made, because we were in Turkey 3 years ago and we bought 2 of them and I love them and I enjoy them everyday and now its fun to see actually the actual process and how intricate and complicated it is. Yukenda: Miniature artist are documentarians, in a sense. They depict famous scenes from history impact ably, from historic wars to lives of celebrated kings. Painters like Sezgi Belgi specialize in ottoman tradition of miniature paintings. Sezgi: I come from Anatolia, Turkey, but my art work is practiced everywhere in Turkey because it was popularized by Ottoman Empire. I’ve been doing this for 6 years. Miniature art is one of the traditional picture arts. It originates in the Middle East and the Far East. It came to us from the ulgers, it is very sophisticated requiring documentary and research. Before starting miniature you have to undertake heavy research and in this sense it resembles a documentary. In the past the miniature art was even used as a picture book art because in the past century there were no cameras so people recorded important events by drawing them. They were basically photographing them through drawings and this picture did for those people what today’s documentaries do for us.