RUG ( HALI - CARPET )The word rug reminds us of the material we spread on the floor at our homes. In general, rugs can be classified in two categories as machine made and handmade. Here, we would like to talk about handmade rugs and kilims. Some of the examples of the finest rugs made in the Eagean region of Anatolia are Yagci Bedir, Yörük, Antique Yörük, Milas, Antique Milas types etc.
We are specifically going to talk about the "Yagci Bedir" type Rugs. These rugs are produced in the vicinity of "Balikesir" City, in Sindirgi region. In this district also "Yörük", "Antique Yörük" and "Sirvan" types are produced. Among the kilims produced in Balikesir region are Cicim, Zili, Sumak, Alaçul and Karakeçili types.
As a native of this region, I would like to give you general information about the rugs produced in this area and the feelings and thoughts of the peasants artisans who produce them.
YAGCI BEDIR RUGS
Yagci Bedir rugs are the creation of the feelings and thoughts of Turkish women for over hundreds of years. Each color in each thread has a special meaning. The colors and patterns used in Yagci Bedir rugs are not randomly chosen and this has been understood years later. These rugs have always been produced by the descendents of Yagci Bedir Nomads and from them they have taken their name.
When "Yagci Bedir" nomads migrated from "Mid Asia" to "Anatolia", they lived a quiet life in the beginning. They were mostly making a living from owning herds and doing related jobs and not paying any taxes to the Ottoman Empire government. In 1860s, the Ottoman Empire Mayor of Bursa , demanded the Yagci Bedir nomads to change their life styles. This caused a lot of protests and rebellions against the Mayor Ahmet Vefik Pasha. After these incidents, the elders of the Nomads have given the nickname of "Cadir yirtan Pasha" to Ahmet Vefik Pasha. The nickname translates as "Tent Ripper Pasha" . Then, "Yagci Bedir" Nomads changed their lifestyle from Tribes to settlers and started paying taxes in the form of woodwork used in the ship making or bows ( Keman Yayi - Violin bow ). Rumors have it that the Nomads paid their taxes as bows, which in Turkish is ( Yay - Bow ). They were also called "Yayci Bedir" which translates to "Bow maker Bedir" . Some others say that the Nomads got their name from the "Bedirli Tribes" who carried oil to the muslim prophet Mohammad's army during the battle at "Bedir" Saudi Arabia.
At the end, they come across as sensitive and romantic society of the high plateaus. They may not have put their feelings on paper, but the figures and motifs used in the rugs are not a result of some coincidence instead they have deep meanings.
"Yagci Bedir" rugs are made in "Yagci Bedir" villages in Sindirgi region, an area part of the Balikesir City, and are the most important rugs made in this district. "Yagci Bedir" villages are Karakaya, Egridere, Esmedere, Çakilli and Alakir. Karakaya village is often visited by tours from abroad. Also, the Izmir base of NATO schedules twice-yearly trips to Karakaya.
"Yagci Bedir" rugs are grouped in two categories as "Sindirgi" and "Bergama" types. Both types use the same colors and are made in same sizes. "Sindirgi" type rugs, mostly have two "Mihrabs". A "Mihrab" is the symbol of the unity between religions and is used as a balance factor. There are 7 borders around the "Mihrab" . Inside the borders. there are wings ( Eagle wings ) and also you can see a pair of scales. The meaning of the scales is "No matter how successful or powerful you are, be just". Between the "Mihrab" and the borders are the guards called "Kocabas". "Kocabas" is the trusty DOG of the Nomads. In front of the "Kocabas", is the pasture that contains different plants. "Bergama" types of "Yagci Bedir" rugs, usually have a big round mid section, which is also called " Belly ".
All these handknotted woollen rugs are made in various sizes from 100 % regional wool and are double knotted with ( GHIORDES - Turkish double Knots ). "Yagci Bedir " rugs have between 8500 to 10000 knots per square meter, ( approximately 10 knots by suare inches ). Somes of the common sizes of "Yagci Bedir" rugs are "Minder", "Yastik", "Çeyrek", "Seccade", "Karyola", and "Taban".They can be also in different dimensions.
Vegetable dyed "Yagci Bedir" rugs have been produced with consistency in their designs and colors for over hundreds of years. Usually, the designs include Plane tree leaves, Sunflower, Moon and Stars figures. The colors used in "Yagci Bedir" rugs are Blue, Red, White, Navy Blue, Dark Red, Brown and Black.
The techniques in producing the dyes used in the making of "Yagci Bedir" rugs are still one of the best keeped Secrets ( Know-How ). The villagers say that they take the white from "Akdag" ( White mountain ) and the Blue from "Gokdag" ( Sky mountain ) of the region. The colors, been all natural, are obtained by using differents roots. Somes of the roots used in the color mixture are Redroot, Oregano, Poplar, Walnut, Onionskin, Pomegranate etc. Only the coloring experts artisans in the "Yagci Bedir" villages know the Mixture proportions. The color Blue is obtained by mixing "Indigo" with other roots.
Blending the color blue with artificial colors creates other colors. This doesn't mean that the rugs are dyed with artificial dyes. By mixing very small amounts of artificial dye with natural dyes, the paint does not wash away in the washing process of the rugs. Color mixing process has been passed down from one generation to the next within the tribe. To keep this secret in the tribe, the marriages are only performed within the tribe's members.
A regional Proverb say that "Yagci Bedir" rugs take their water from 7 rivers, their colors from 7 mountains and their secrets from their 7 descendants. 7 kinds of colors are used in "Yagci Bedir" rugs. Also, there are 7 types of borders and 7 different plant figures on the "Yagci Bedir" rugs. Yörüks ( Nomads ) believe that 7 is a holy number and the human life can be divided into 7 eras. These are Birth, Childhood, Teenage years, Marriage, Old age Death and Resurrection. The Yörük ( Nomads ) Tribes consist of 7 divisions such as Karakecili, Sarikecili, Akkoyunlu, Bedirli, Ahmetli, Sehitli and Cavdarli.
In the old days, the rugs were not washed after they were produced. Currently, there are 3 washing facilities in Sindirgi. handmade rugs are washed before going out to the market.
Starting in the 1980s, "Yagci Bedir" rugs have been made in neighboring villages of Sindirgi, other than the "Yagci Bedir" villages. As a result the coloring technique and the quality of the production have been poor. This has affected the market negatively. These rugs are sold as second or third quality rugs. The makers of these lower quality rugs tricked buyers by misinforming them. There is a chance of being tricked by these rug makers and buying a lower quality rug for the price of a better quality one.
Nowadays, "Yagci Bedir" rugs are mostly exported to the other countries. In the past 10 - 15 years sales have shown improvement in the market.