Iğdır University in the eponymous eastern province of Turkey has launched a new project focused on the preservation, development and promotion of the city's carpets and rugs in association with the Turkish Employment Agency (IŞKUR). The university-owned business has sold the locally manufactured textile products to Japan in hopes of promoting Iğdır's local products and providing opportunities for local carpetmakers.
Iğdır University and IŞKUR, with support from the Iğdır Provincial Special Administration and Public Education Center, hope to promote and export carpets unique to Iğdır, created in a new local workshop on the outskirts of Mount Ağrı (Ararat) in the Karaağaç district. The project encourages local women to learn the art of weaving, providing them with a source of income, before exporting the products to Japan through a private firm.
Iğdır University Vice Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty Cavit Polat explained how the project was designed specifically with Japan in mind. "Japanese society mostly lives in narrow spaces. So, we design and weave our carpets in small sizes for use in small spaces in our workshops. The carpets are mostly 1 or 2 square meters (10-22 square feet), fitted for tight use and adorned elaborately with unique Turkish plant motifs," he said.
Hatice Mengü, an expert instructor at the new workshop, said that they weave the exquisite carpets in traditional Mamluk and Seljuk styles. “In the past, these Mamluk carpets would be used as ornaments hung on walls. They are carpets adorned heavily with motifs from the Seljuk period,” she said.
Melahat Teleri, head of the Handicrafts Department at Iğdır University Vocational School of Higher Education, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the local housewives have been taking weaving courses for two months, adding that it was a great initiative for local women wanting to join the workforce.
“This has been a part of Iğdır University's efforts to promote regional products on an international scale while helping the local economy. Women who have been trained in the craft, manufacture the carpets and weave the requested patterns in the workshop, and we sell the handwoven carpets to Japan thanks to a private firm,” she said.
Teleri emphasized the impact that the project has had on the local community. “This is the first time Iğdır ventured into the Asian market. We believe that in the end, we will manufacture products independently. That is, we plan to weave the carpets with threads and dyes produced we produce ourselves in this project,” she said.