A modern trademark of Serbia and an old witness of the Turkish heritage, kilim made in Pirot represents a unique piece of traditional decoration. The tradition of handweaving is more than 500 years old in Pirot and surrounding villages. Currently, in Pirot there are only 30 women who are still actively weaving. Considering that this number was around 2.500 during the last century, it’s a bit saddening that the cool and unique tradition like this is slowly disappearing.
The process of kilim making is slow, precise and demanding, and it can take up to several months. First, the weavers create a longitudinal thread system as a basis for weaving. After that, they use their hands and fingers instead of measurement instruments and the whole procedure becomes sensitive work that demands utmost precision and expertise. Although the process may look like the simple repetition of movements, weavers take a long time to create each kilim. The kilims are woven so tight that the finished product can stay up in the air sideways.
“A good kilim can last 100 years from one side, and 100 from the other”, as the traditional saying goes.
Some may think that it looks like the collection of random looking shapes, but actually, each shape has a specific meaning. Some kilims symbolize good health, well being, good fortune in love, business and success.
Pirot kilims may look similar to the other traditional weaving of the middle eastern countries, but it has a unique pattern. The Pirot kilim is the only kind of a carpet, that looks absolutely the same from both front and back side. This feature is the main reason why kilims made in Pirot are recognized internationally as a traditional Serbian brand.
The weaving skills are passed from generation to generation, and mostly to the women. Girls used to learn this skill from older sisters, or mother and grandmother when they turn 7. There is another reason why they are called the real Serbian brand. The wool used for weaving comes from the local sheep from the villages surrounding the town of Pirot, and from the nearby Old Mountain Nature Reserve.
The best option is to buy locally, in Pirot, where everybody can recommend local handcrafters. From the official brands, we can suggest a craft union “Damsko srce/Lady’s heart” whose primary motivation is to preserve this national symbol and unique traditional weaving process from the unmerciful bites of time.
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