When talking about kilims it is hard not to mention their equally beautiful cousins – rugs madeusing the Soumak weave. Scholars are still not sure about the source of its name due to itsappearance in numerous different cultures.
Some suggest that it might derive from the oldtown of Shemakja in Azerbaijan, while others point towards Turkish word sekmek used todescribe the process of weaving and even local flowers. For us, the name Soumak has onemeaning: the finest quality.
Products made using the Soumak weave can be found in the Shirvan region of Caucasus,Luristan, Turkish Anatolia and the Kurdish tribes in north-western Persia. The Soumakweaving technique is usually exclusive to tapestries, but it is sometimes used to make rugsand bags. The weave of soumak resembles kilims to some extent but is much stronger andthicker. The technique itself involves a repetitive process of wrapping four pre-colored weftthreads first over and then under the warp threads, which results in an embroidery-likepattern.
The main feature that differentiates Soumaks and kilims is fact that the former’s back isragged, leaving all the loose ends of threads visible, which results in a thicker rug. Also,unlike kilim, there are no slits where colors meet, as there is a supplementary or structuralweft which supports the colored pattern weft. Soumak’s weave is very fine, so despite beingstronger than kilims they are not as durable as pile carpets. Curiously enough, newer Soumaksmade by Kurdish tribes are weftless, so their stitching tends to overlap.
As Soumak rugs were woven in various and sometimes very different regions, their designscan look nothing alike. Antique Soumaks, a rarity in the carpet world, often feature grandiosecentral medallions and repeating patterns. Other common motifs are Persian garden and tribalpatterns which have their own special meanings.