Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America.


In rural Turkey, trousseaux are a personal and socially representative collection of textile practices, economies, and desires. This paper addresses the questions of how, when, why and in what forms handweaving gave way to the collection of mass-produced commodities and handmade goods reflecting urban styles in trousseaux. It considers how local communities abandon cultural heritage production for their own consumption and make the transition to desiring, making and buying decorative goods, which reflect current fashions in both local and national terms. The paper is based on long-term ethnographic research in rural villages in western Anatolia, where handweaving once demonstrated cultural heritage and a residual nomadic lifestyle, but now is commodified for export markets. As this shift in the role of weaving took place, goods in trousseaux changed as well. Beginning in the 1960s and accelerating in the 1980s, young women, their mothers, and future mothers-in-law, both unable to afford handwoven goods, and in part, lacking an interest in them, took up crochetwork by making doilies and tablecloths, and decorating headscarves (oya), and hand towels. They took up knitting socks (patik) and embroidery, as well, producing decorative textiles, some of which are given away after marriage in the creation of networks of friendship among married and unmarried women and girls. In addition to considering how textiles shift in meaning and function, thus identifying the effects of commodification, this paper also considers how new goods, utilizing different
skills, create new social relationships in rural life.