The Gilded Serpent presents...
A Rug Story
by Justine

While traveling across Turkey on my long awaited dream trip, I was watching for a rug to buy. I dearly loved my hand made Egyptian rug, which I roll out in my bedroom every winter. (I cherish the story that comes with it.) However, I wanted a rug for the living room that I share with Delores and Christiana.  Since we live with two cats and three Shelties, I knew a hand-knotted pile rug was not practical, any handmade rug was not practical, but oh! I loved looking.

There were rugs everywhere in Turkey, hanging in front of shops, draped out in the rain in Cappodocia, on balconies by the sea, on floors in stores; really it was a tough spot to be in. Woven fabrics just call me, like other women crave gold jewelry. When I went to Scotland, I searched wool blankets and shawls, now I craved silk. and rugs. 

My thirst for silk was fulfilled In Istanbul, when I found incredible dancing veils for Christina, but the perfect rug eluded me, no matter how many charming salesmen lured me into their shops with the promise of tea and kittens to play with.

The searches for more silk scarves lead to a shop that made incredible belly dance clothes. Christina and I spent a wonderful afternoon buying a trunk of clothing for her eBay store. While most of the dancing clothes we had seen until that time were very small, these were cut to generous proportions, i.e. they fit me with some room to spare.

After all the fun things we did, swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, walking through Ephesus admiring the ruins, the wonders of the hidden cities of Cappodocia, mud baths, Pamukkale, one of our most fun afternoons on our trip was playing dress up with the girls in a belly dance store.

Unusual in Turkey, the designers and owners were women.  Sisters, they communicated just like Christina and I. A mere nod or headshake spokes volumes to each other. They were delighted we were sisters, and travel companions. Of generous body proportions, they loved seeing me in their clothes.  So, I modeled outfits for them, and we argued about new styles, beads and color choices. We drank wine out of gold-trimmed glasses that I had to hand carry home. (So much for non-fragile items on this trip!)

Christina bought lots of coin belts, hip scarves, and cool two-piece coin outfits to wear; then we started worrying about packing once again.

On our last night in Turkey, we took a farewell stroll through the village of Selcuk, near Ephesus. Under a statue of Artemis the divine, we struck up a conversation with a young man. We went to his shop, the Double Knot, and chatted for an hour before looking at rugs.

Old rugs are cleaned before going into the shops, but the room smelled faintly of wool and hemp fiber. Bezat showed us a variety of antique rugs. Several rugs were over 100 years old. He told us that old rugs are getting hard to find, the nomads prefer plastic tarps. Many old rugs have been sold and are seen only in shops. The nomad women are tired of having their handwork exploited, and have other life choices besides weaving rugs all day.

Rug stores are interesting, the salesman know an amazing information about rugs. Rug men tend to be well educated and full of interesting conversation. Rugs are pile-woven or flat-woven kilms. I like kilms for living, because they are easier to clean.

The evening wore on, past eleven o'clock: Christina wanted to go to bed. I had to drag her out of an ice cream shop back into Behzat's shop for her opinion of my chosen rug.  The bargaining went well, Behzat liked my cash price and the store kitten approved. With a handshake and a smile, I owned a kilm rug that was my age.

Under a full moon I carried my precious rug back to our pension through quiet streets. Would it look as good by daylight as it did by moonlight? Or had I been bewitched by Artemis of a thousand faces? Returning to our room, I threw clothes out of my baggage, and yes, it fit! -in the bottom of my rolling bag. Silk scarves and tunics be damned: I had a rug!

Porters, henceforth, would be shocked at the weight of my bag. Later in the trip, dragging my bag through the London tube system at midnight, I cursed the weight myself. Once back home in Oregon, I thought it was worth all the searching and trouble. So did the cats and dogs.

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