Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Textiles in Daily Life: Proceedings of the Third Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–26, 1992 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1993).


Copyright © 1992 by the author(s).



With their innovative images and messages, Anatolian textiles bring statements from history and witness social change as well. This conversation with the past appears on embroideries (isleme), weavings (dokuma), flat woven carpets (kilim), rugs (hali), needlelace (oya), or a variety of other artifacts from the loom and the needle. They take their impetus from Turkish culture and traditions. However, they extend well beyond these, into the lives and roots of the many peoples of Anatolia who have left their marks on the multi-cultural urban, rural, or semi-nomadic environments. Since their themes and motifs appear on architecture and artifacts alike, they address questions which should be within the scope of both architectural and social history.

Collective and social memory helps develop our understanding and experience of the present which is largely dependent on the knowledge of the past (Connerton, 1989:2). This, however, has been fairly difficult in the Anatolian setting due to: 1) the general indifference historians have shown for the lives, dwellings, and belongings of the ordinary people; and, 2) the rejection of some traditional elements by the people due to the massive political and socio-economic changes that have taken place recently.


Traditionally considered to be much less glorified than the houses of gods, kings, and the dead, dwellings of the "people" have been greatly overlooked since architectural history has chosen the study of temples, palaces, and tombs as its field of inquiry. While a large amount of detailed information and evaluation on the monuments of the past have been carefully gathered, little has been preserved from the architecture of the people: vernacular architecture. Still less have historians cared about the interiors of the dwellings people inhabited, their daily lives, and the artifacts they used.

In recent years, through documentation and investigation, some ground has been covered on the habitats of the peoples of the world. Likewise, Anatolian dwellings have been studied within the parameters of the vernacular language of architecture, in their cultural and physical settings. However, our collective memory of interiors, the objects/artifacts that have contributed to spatial definition, and the significance and value of their aesthetic aspects is still poor. Documentation on this is in progress, yet incomplete. A closer look into the living patterns of the dwellers and how they, themselves, may have evaluated their own habitats and all that have made life meaningful must also be part of the architectural historian's inquiry. Only then our social memory will be inseparable from architectural history, to verify the significance of such artifacts in houses.