Woven in time

Kurdish carpet-making
Community volunteers demonstrate Kurdish carpet-making techniques at a community festival, 1993.
Source: KAV Archives

Traditional handcrafts are an important part of the lives of Kurds in Australia because they keep us connected with our past.

For the Victorian Kurdish community, the most important textile is the carpet, or cil. Carpets are still made in the traditional manner, in which wool is carded, spun, dyed and woven, all by hand. A Kurdish cil is a flat-woven rug, also known as a kilim. The technique is also used to produce smaller household items such as bags, cushions and runners. Geometric symbols are either woven into the rug during its production or embroidered on later. Many of the designs are the same as those used in traditional tattoos.

Costumes also carry many symbolic designs. The women’s robes in particular are beautifully embroidered with motifs in rich materials, set off by elaborate headwear and gold jewellery. Hand-knitted socks in brilliant colours also carry important symbolic patterns. Men wear these colourful socks and patterned vests, while the rest of their clothing is plain.

Most people in Victoria’s Kurdish community wear traditional clothing for special occasions such as, cultural events or family celebrations. Older people continue to wear them as everyday clothes.