Kilims, which are much rather ancient than their relative the carpet, are a kind of flat-weave rug. These rugs are originally produced in a tribal environment. Unfortunately there is no certain information on how ancient kilims are; however archaeologists have found evidence of their existence on the walls of Egyptian tombs dating from 1700-1800 BC.
However incredible it may sound, it is even more amazing to know that some of the motifs found in such rugs seem to be quite more antique than the weaving itself. The designs of a kilim tend to be of a geometric shape and often include several symbolic motifs. These motifs which are bound to be found on kilims are copied in flat weaves all over the world from the tribes in the Atlas Mountains, stopping by the Afghan nomads to the Navajo Indians in the U.S.A. and the Indians of the Andes in South America.
The universal motifs typically found in kilims hide an extremely rich language based on ancient beliefs, legends and mythology. However, local variations may be easily spotted on kilims according to the region and even village where they have been woven.
The most repeatedly occurring motifs in kilim rugs are the following:
The eye motif: Specially found in lots of Asian and African countries, the eye represents a charm against bad luck and misfortune coming from the malicious eye emitted by those who gaze at them with envy or ill purpose. Therefore, the different eye motifs seen in kilims are deliberately woven to give protection to the members of the household.
The rams horn motif: this is a symbol which dates from the Neolithic times. Besides this, evidence of this motif has also been found among the Egyptian and Phoenician cultures. In old Anatolian civilizations the rams horn was the symbol of the power of the gods. Nowadays in nomadic Turkish communities this represents the symbol of power and fertility, showing the particularity of being mostly related to male virility.
The bird motif: This symbolizes the endless fascination of humankind towards the idea of flying; therefore the bird motif reveals its meaning as that of freedom and the associated concept of good news brought from far away.
The wheat ear motif: This symbol represents the fertility of the earth and for this reason plenty and prosperity are two interrelated ideas often found in kilim rugs.
The pomegranate: Such motif is quite similar in meaning to that of the wheat ear motif because this fruit of paradise with its hundreds of seeds in the single fruit represented wealth and plenty. There was an ancient custom in which whenever a couple got married, pomegranate seeds were sprinkled in the home of the newlyweds so that they would be happy and have healthy children.
The spider motif: The spider motif bestows sacred significance because of its connection to the legend of Arachne, the Lydian woman who was turned into a spider by the Greek goddess Athena due to Arachnes boasting of her ability as a magnificent weaver.
The tree of life motif: This symbol is often displayed with its roots embedded in the earth beneath, and its branches reaching up into the sky. The evident mystical connotation shows a connection between mortal life and the spiritual world above portraying the immortality of the human soul.
The snake motif: The motif of the snake is deeply rooted to that of the tree of life motif since the snake is depicted as the guardian of the tree. This role may probably result from the annual snakes sloughing of their skin. Consequently, the snake represents rebirth and life energy.
The diamond shaped motif (hand on waist): This symbols meaning dates back to prehistory and it appears to be the stylized representation of a pregnant woman and expresses the wish of the woman who is weaving the kilim of bringing healthy children into the world.
To understand the meaning of the kilims motifs and their bright colors together with their intricate geometric patterns help to enhance their beauty and make them even more attractive to the buyers eyes.