Talk about procrastination when it comes to doing laundry. An Ottoman-era carpet was washed for the first time in its 120-year history in preparation for its restoration. Why it took so long is not the fault of its caretakers though. The carpet, which graces the Grand Hall of Yıldız Chalet in Istanbul, was not properly cleaned for fear of harming it and the washing process that started this week is a delicate one.
At 468 square meters, the Hereke carpet was woven in a factory in the titular town upon orders of Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II. It is one of the biggest single-piece carpets in Turkey, which is home to diverse types of carpets and rugs. It was a special order from the sultan, who was apparently looking to impress visiting German Kaiser Wilhelm II. Designed by Emil Meinz who was responsible for a lot of the ornate flooring in Ottoman palaces at the time, the carpet is a sight to behold with decorations fitted with patterns on the walls and the ceiling of the Grand Hall. Three circular motifs on the carpet fall exactly on the spots where light from the chandelier above reflect upon. That is just one of the many prominent features of the carpet.
Naturally, it will take a careful approach to restore the carpet. Some 50 workers and a crane were employed to take the carpet to a large warehouse set up in the Chalet's courtyard where it will be restored. The warehouse is specifically set up for the restoration of the carpet that is expected to continue for three years. Professor Ahmet Çapoğlu, deputy chairman of the National Palaces Administration, the state-run authority in charge of the upkeep of the Ottoman-era palaces, spoke to İhlas News Agency about the restoration process for the 3-ton carpet.
"It has a number of deformities from all those years and we had to take the utmost caution not to harm it any further. We set up a pool [inside the warehouse] and brought in chemicals that would not damage the carpet from Istanbul Technical University after a dry cleaning process. Special equipment was used to limit the exposure of water to the carpet and excessive water was removed. We will now restore the carpet to its original state with a restoration that will fix swollen parts and damage done by moths," he said.