Precise replicas of old Anatolian pile rugs are being woven in Çamlik, a small sleepy village close to Selçuk in the Southwestern Turkey. The driving force behind this endeavour is rug dealer Osman Can, owner of Can Carpets.
He has created modern workshops where the work of the weavers
and their social rights are respected, making it an exemplary
social project. His work breathes life into the declining tradition of hand weaving in Turkey whilst teaching, at the same time, a profession to young women.
In a few words, could you us the story of how Can Carpets was founded? In 1963, the German priest of the Virgin Mary Church in Selçuk became friends with my father, İsmet Can, who was a barber at the time. They exchanged language lessons teaching each other Turkish and German. Once he became more proficient in German, he converted his barber shop into a souvenir shop. Being one of the few who spoke a foreign language at the time opened up new options. In 1968 the souvenirs were dropped and his shop became a carpet shop. That’s how Can Carpets was born. What difficulties did you face once you decided to take over your father’s business?
I was aware of the moral difficulty of taking over my father’s business because my father was a respected businessman with a very good reputation. This meant that I had to keep up this reputation and further it even more. If I were to make mistakes, my father would hold me accountable. So I was always attentive, respectful, and sensitive about my work and about people. Right from the beginning I wanted to get intoproducing rugs but my father was against the idea, explaining how difficult it is and how risky it was financially. Due to his reaction I had to put it off my plans for a few years. Your shop is in Selçuk close to Ephesus, one of the world’smost important archaeological sites, visited by thousands of tourists per year. Was it a major important contribution to your business? Obviously being in Selçuk close to Ephesus and the house of the Virgin Mary had a positive influence for our business
and lay the foundations of our work. The high capacity of accommodation in our town, thus the number of visitors,
helped to realise my projects. Was there a tradition of weaving in Selçuk? Actually, I starting weaving in Selçuk. Some carpet shops had looms to demonstrate weaving but no-one was producing rugs with handspun wool, natural dyes and traditional methods. We are proud to be the unique company in Selçuk producing quality rugs.
What difficulties did you encounter at first? Where did you find support and encouragement? I started producing my carpets in Sultanhanı and in Aksaray in 1995. Those first rugs sold very easily. It was only later that I realised that it wasn’t that easy… At the beginning, I put together a team made up of the best carpet restorers. These professionals taught weaving techniques to about a dozen girls for a year. I was also lucky that my wife is a professional weaver. She suggested creating a workshop in the village of Çamlık, close to Selçuk. We tried not to neglect anything and
to think of everything for this new workshop. Later on, I also opened workshops in Manisa, Güllübahçe and Aksaray. At the beginning, we learnt the hard way, for example I chose the wrong wool and the carpets were not of the quality we desired. But I never gave up and I decided to carry on. How did the idea of making replicas of Seljuk and Ottoman carpets come about? Foreign clients that visited our shop asked why we were not selling carpets like those on display in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and in other prestigious museums worldwide. That’s how the idea came about and little by little we started producing carpets inspired by those in the museums. In this manner, we have made old Turkish rugs known and loved. Can you explain in a few words the materials you use and your concept of production? Can you tell us about your dyeing techniques? We use the best wool available in Turkey. First we gather in