NOTE: Additions to the text in red were added during the report compilation, for the website.
NOTE: Sharon's comments will be in {curly brackets}.

Sunday November 23, 2008. Day Trip to Remarkable Carpet Center Hereke. Day 7 of 21.


Turkish carpets may be made from wool or silk, or various mixtures of each. The big ones you see on floors are wool. The ones hung from walls or ceilings for decoration are often in silk. A town called Hereke (say HAIR-eh-keh), about 45 minutes from here, specializes in very elegant silk carpets, which we're told are 10 x 10 silk threads to the square centimeter. That's about 25 x 25 to the square inch. So a carpet one meter (a little more than a yard) square would contain 100 x 10 = 1000 strands x 1000 strands in the other direction = 1 million intersectons, and each intersection of a vertical and a horizontal strand has one knot. Therefore the maker of that one square meter 10 x 10 resolution tied one million knots. And that's just a one meter squared carpet! {As we were to find out, the carpets increase in knots per centimeter as the quality goes up. They are working on one to beat their own record of 36x36 to make one 40x40 in one square centimeter. The silk thread was so fine, it almost looked like the silk that comes from the cocoon initially.}


As I'm looking out the window, towards the Marmar, a gull flies over and it is so close that I can see the white tail, the yellow bill with red spot near the tip and the yellow legs. It's a YELLOW-LEGGED GULL. Excellent.

I get on the scope and find the main body of gulls down by the swimming pool. Most have yellow legs, but one has grey legs, a dark bill and a gradual blending of the gray back to the white neck - not distinct like other gulls. This has to be an AUDOIN'S GULL. Double excellent.

I snack for breakfast. Cihan slept in because the internet went down last night, and he was trouble-shooting his equipment into the wee hours. He finally contacted the internet service provider and learned that it was their problem, not his.


We take off for Hereke at 1 pm or so. On the highway, we encounter a traffic accident in the OTHER direction, luckily for us. Rescue vehicles have just turned a big truck back onto its four tires. It must have been on its side or upside down. The road was totally blocked and the traffic was backed up for 3 or 4 miles. We hope they get it clear before it's time for us to return home.

We arrive in Hereke and Cihan pulls into a parking lot adjacent to a building about four stories tall. It is light in color and has several photographs on the side facing us. One of them, I learn later, was taken in 1999 and is of Bill and Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea. I compliment the Clintons on their good taste. {There is a Hereke carpet in one of the rooms in the White House.}

The Carpet Building Cihan Took Us To

We walk into the building, where Cihan greets the owner/manager, a man named Serhan r. He is very friendly and invites us to continue taking photos, after Sharon points out the "no photography" sign on the wall to me. Cihan tells me that Serhan says I can take all the photos and video I want. {The sign is there because they don't want anyone stealing their designs or technique.}


One woman is tying tiny knots of silk threads onto a carpet mounted on a loom. She is doing a 12 x 12 carpet by herself. Here, she is showing Tara how to tie a knot. It's called a double knot and must be tied exactly a certain way, tying two vertical threads together. It's very clever and is one reason the Hereke carpets are so famous and of such high quality. She teaches Sharon how to tie the knot also. When you are finished with the knot, you slide it down to the edge of the established carpet, and tug downward smartly. This puts the tied thread at a downward angle when cut (Important. Explained below).

Tara asks the lady if she's married, and she says, "No, thank God." We got a kick out of her answer.

The Artist Lady shows Tara how to tie the Hereke double knot

Beyond this loom, there is a larger one, with two women working on it at the same time. They are about 80% finished with their carpet. {You can see in both these pictures that the women are working from a pattern in front of them that is on a grid like counted cross stitch. Each pattern covers just one section of the finished carpet. The two women are working on a carpet that is 20x20 knots to the square centimeter. They will work all day and finish 4 rows in that day, which will amount to 2 millimeters of the carpet. They will work on this carpet 4 years before it is finished.}

Two Sisters Work on A Carpet Simultaneously

This is just over one sixteenth of an inch! A day! As they finish each knot, they cut it with a knife, leaving about 1 inch sticking out. While we were there, they finished one row and we were able to watch them trim those edges with special scissors until the surface felt like velvet. What skill!}

This is a wholesale shop, but Cihan met Serhan months earlier when he was shopping for a carpet for a friend, so we have the advantage of this already-established relationship.


Next, Serhan takes us down to the basement to show us some of his carpets. I make an inquiry and learn that Serhan has 2400 ladies making carpets in the surrounding area, almost all in their own homes.

Serhan has three or four assistants who begin unrolling large carpets which are priced in the tens of thousands. We admire and wait for them to bring out smaller ones, more in our price range. The design of the carpets is such that the cut-off individual thread does not stick straight up from the carpet, but comes up at a 30-40 degree angle. And the mind-bending result of this is that the carpet looks lighter from one end and darker from exactly the other end, in the same surrounding light. Here is an example.

Same Carpet Rotated 180 degrees, in the Same Light


Some of these carpets are 18 x 18 to the centimeter or even more detailed. Intricate designs with lots of detail require higher number of strands per centimeter. Non-detailed designs can use 10 x 10 to the centimeter just fine.

After Serhan shows us about 20 or 30 carpets, I tell Cihan to have him show us 12 x 12 type carpets about 18 inches by 24-30 inches. I tell him "I won't have a carpet less than 12 x 12 in my house!" This cracks Serhan up for some reason, I guess the resolve I show and the dead steady look on my face. It turns out to be easy to make a man laugh when he's trying to sell you a Turkish carpet.

We finally zoom in on one particular one that is approximately in our price range, and the negotiations begin, with Cihan being our rep. I explain the absolute max we decided we would go to this morning, and we were already above that, but he still wouldn't come down to that figure. We went back and forth and finally agreed on a price acceptable to us.

Our (Sharon's) New Carpet (In Tara and Cihan's Dining Room, draped over the back of a chair)

We drink more tea. Oh, I forgot to mention the constant inflow of tea through the carpet presenting. {The design is called The Tree of Life, a traditional Turkish pattern and we loved the colors in it.}

Cihan, Serhan, Tara, Sharon and me. The back row has two male assistants plus the two ladies working together on the larger carpet upstairs. Nice photo, eh?

It was a great buying experience. When you're with Cihan, all things are possible. He is absolutely responsible for this fantastic adventure.


Next we walk up about three floors to their design center. They have software on a PC computer that is tied to a gigantic HP printer.

HP Printer

They show us our exact design on their computer, and zoom in to the individual knot level. That bird's eye represents exactly one knot. Each square, at this level, is one knot. This is amazingly EXACTLY analagous to one pixel on a computer monitor screen. EXACTLY!

Knot Level

Then they print out our carpet's design and give us this wonderful printout.


Next we go across the street to his silk thread storage, and it's wonderful, with a hundred colors here. I ask if they ever have a problem with color dye lots being not quite the same color, and he explains to no great surprise that they know with extreme accuracy how much silk they need for each carpet, and they produce that much all from one dye run. No variation in colors. {They also give me some silk worm cocoons to take home and the "cuttings" from the carpet the two women were working on. Gary McPherson (Old friend of mine) used to save the ends and clippings from his needlepoint projects and put them all in a glass jar. The result with all the colors looked like a modern painting, I thought. So i will try this when we get home.}

Silk Thread Colors

Silkworm Cocoons


We finish the great carpet experience, and one of Serhan's assistants rides with us to show the way down to the waterfront to a fish restaurant recommended by Serhan. We go in, and the cigarette smoke is horrendous. There is one table with about ten adults just having finished their meal. Every one of them is smoking. I start getting dizzy. Cihan and Tara ask if I want to go to another restaurant. I say this one will be fine, if we can sit over by the glass door in the glass wall facing the water, and open the door.

I go outside for fresh air and to take this night shot across the water. The fresh air begins to displace the smoke in my lungs. Ahhhh.

The Waterfront

We're all smiles below because the smokers are gone.

Hereke Fish Restaurant

And that's what we did. Plus about ten minutes later, the manager asks the smokers to please stop, as they're making the good-looking American sick, over in the corner by the door. {He actually asked two men to leave. We think those were regular customers that he knows will come back and he wants to please us.} The owner-lady is actually way more worried that I'll catch a bad cold from the cold air, but I don't roll that way. I don't let cold air give me a cold, for some reason.

Well we order our fish and assorted associated delicacies and it's very, very good. There is so much that we have them box up part of it and take it back home. {The women "owner", I think, also gives Tara and me scarves that she crochets edges on. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts in Turkey!}

{Also, a young man has been watching us all evening, trying to catch Bob's eye as he is selling light toys (toys with fiber optic strands that transmit colored lights). He goes back and forth all the time we are eating and finally, Bob can't resist, so he goes outside and buys two of them. Sweet Bob.}

And speaking of home, that's where we go. Luckily the accident is all cleared, but I don't care because I nap almost all the way home. I'll sleep well tonight. Mmmmm.

Birds: Yellow-footed Gull, Audoin's Gull


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