Flower Carpet 2014: this year, say Turkish Begonyas!

Flower Carpet 2012. Photo: Eric Danhier
Flower Carpet 2012. Photo: Eric Danhier

On the occasion of this 19th edition, the Flower Carpet of the Grand Place has chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Turkish immigration in Belgium. 1,800 m2 of begonias (begonyas in Turkish) will make up an ephemeral tapestry inspired by the geometric patterns of Turkey’s famous kilims. Visitors will have the opportunity to admire this astonishing display from 14 to 17 August 2014, to sense all its tones and all its nuances, whether from the Grand-place itself or from above, from the balcony of the City Hall. A magical masterpiece, colourful and scented, what better way to pay tribute to the Turkish community of Brussels!

The Turkish carpets or kilims 

Top view of 2010 carpet
Top view of 2010 carpet

Carpets are an integral part of Turkish culture. They are popular objects which are handed down from generation to generation. They are both useful items and decorative objects. Tradition dictates that a carpet should bear the name of the town where it was made. During Ottoman times, carpets were a status symbol and were presented as gifts to kings and sultans. Patterns on Turkish carpets are incredibly varied and geometrical (diamonds, rectangles, stars, squares) and also include floral or animal patterns. The patterns represent and symbolise myths and beliefs: fertility, joy, happiness or protection from the evil eye. Turkey is well-known for its carpets, produced in every region: from Uşak (Ouchak), patterns used for the Brussels flower carpet, Hereke, a small town near Istanbul which, for centuries, created splendid carpets for the Ottoman palace, and many more, such as Sivas, Manisa, Ladik and many more. In the past, the carpets and kilims of Eastern Anatolia were for the most part made by nomadic or semi-nomadic populations.

The border city of Kars is an important region for the carpet trade. In no other city do so many different populations cohabitate. Tatars, Armenians, Cherkessians, Azerbaidjanis, Kurds and Turkmens have lived there in harmony for centuries. Twenty years ago, the well-known Kars-Kasaks were made there, carpets which are much enjoyed here, in dark tones of brown and green. In the past, Erzurum was an important stop on the Silk Road, between Persia and the Black Sea. Kilims formerly weaved in this region are exceptionally beautiful and sought after by collectors. Sivas carpets boast an exceptional quality of wool and meticulous knotting. Carpets and kilims from the district of Malatya are, for the most part, homemade by semi-nomads or nomadic settlers. Production of woven items is much greater than that of knotted carpets. Thanks to the number of gifts conserved in mosques, it has been possible to identify the carpets with great precision. The most beautiful Kurdish works, both woven and knotted, come from this region. Many nomads spend their winter in the fertile plains of the Euphrates. The striped kilims are particularly beautiful. One of their qualities is that, for those made up of two bands which are sewn together, each one is a complete composition in itself, unlike other Anatolian kilims in which the two halves almost always combine into a single composition. Many symbols can be found on these carpets, such as hourglasses, crosses, S-patterns, diamond shapes with hook tips and octagons. Anatolian carpets are the most expensive on the global market but demand remains just as great.

Flowers in Turkey

Carpet in 2008
Carpet in 2008

Turkey’s flora is one of the richest around the Mediterranean! Did you know that tulips, which are generally associated with Holland, actually originated in Turkey. In fact, the name stems from the Turkish ‘tülben’, also the root of the English word ‘turban’. Tulips were discovered in the 16th century. In 1554,  learned Flemish botanist and Austrian ambassador, Augier Ghislain de Busbecq, decided to send to Vienna some tulip seeds which he had discovered in Turkey some years earlier. In 1593, a friend of Augier Ghislain de Busbecq introduced the flower to Holland by selling his personal collection of tulips. While it was used as a decorative element of Turkish art for many centuries, the tulip then gave its name to an era, “the Tulip Age”, which corresponds to the period from 1703 to 1717. Suleiman the Magnificent was fascinated with this flower and held many celebrations in its honour. As it is from Persia, the flower features widely in the Tales of the Arabian Nights, where its red colour symbolises eternal love.

But the Flower Carpet is made up of begonias, begonyas in Turkish!


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