Handicrafts / TAPESTRY

Carpet weaving or tapestry is essentially an oriental craft and its main activity centers are in Iran and Anatoly. As for the Lebanese, they have been manufacturing simple carpets for centuries; however they refined their technique starting in the 17th century.

At that time, the Emir Fakhreddine II the Great authorized the installation of Turkmen tribes on the northern frontier of the country. These tribes helped him protect the land against the threat of invaders, and brought their carpet weaving techniques with them.

 

Carpet weaving looms remained concentrated in a few villages of the Akkar area, namely Aïdamoun, up until the 19thcentury. Later, the looms and the weaving technique spread across Lebanon as certain families migrated and settled in the Baalbek (Fekheh) region, Tripoli and in the Chouf region (Baaqline).

 

Contemporary craftsmen have perpetuated the precious and traditional techniques of their ancestors. Carpet weaving factories in Aïdamoun, Tripoli and Fekheh remain loyal to the Anatolian school, while those of Baaqline still follow the Iranian discipline.

 

Carpets woven in Lebanon are polychromic and very supple. Most commonly used colors, other than black and white, are red, navy blue, pink and yellow. They are often used as floor carpets, but also as sofa or bed covers, decorative pillow cases, or hung as tapestries.



Knotted Pile Carpets

In the Beqaa valley, more specifically in Fekheh, Jdeidet el-Fekheh, Irsal or Bakkifa, craftswomen weave knotted pile carpets. They weave on vertical looms (haute lisse), producing rudimentary carpets that resemble closely to Anatoly’s Bergama carpets invented by Central Asia’s nomads.

The knotted pile carpets were manufactured in dark colors, like navy blue, burgundy or brown, and their background was sprinkled with small geometrical designs, lozenges and hexagons. The traditional hand and eye motifs were also commonly found.

Knotted pile carpets are manufactured with ewe wool imported from Baalbek, and renowned for its strength. The wool was first washed and combed, then dyed and spinned, and finally woven.

 

Traditionally, six women would sit on the ground facing a vertical loom. One of them would sing her directions to the others, hence communicating the number of knots to be made and the colors to be used. In the Beqaa region, women used the symmetrical knot (also called Turkish knot) which held the two weft threads from outside and came out from the inside as a tuft, thus forming the soft side of the carpet. After each knot, the craftswomen cut the thread with their knife. A row of knots is followed by three rows of weft that weavers would press manually with the help of a comb. When weaving is completed, the carpet’s surface is leveled with special scissors.

 

These women would also use their knotted pile weaving craft to manufacture the pillows and bed covers that every bride had to have in her trousseau.

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