/kee leem", kil"im/, n.
a pileless, tapestry-woven rug or other covering made in various parts of the Middle East, eastern Europe, and Turkestan.
[1880-85; < Turk < Pers gilim coarse-woven blanket]

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Pileless floor covering handwoven by tapestry techniques in Anatolia, the Balkans, and parts of Iran.

The name is also given to a variety of brocaded, embroidered, warp-faced, and other flat-woven rugs and bags. A common characteristic is a slit that occurs wherever two colours meet along a vertical line in the pattern. The finest examples are silk 16th–17th-century pieces from Kāshān, Iran. The largest kilims are produced in Turkey, as are smaller examples and prayer kilims (prayer rugs); Turkish weavers often use cotton for the white areas, and small details may be brocaded. The kilims of the southern Balkans, originally copies of Turkish types, gradually developed individual styles. Kilims become progressively less Asian in colour and pattern as the distance from Turkey increases.

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      pileless floor covering handwoven in most places where pile rugs are made. The term is applied both generally and specifically, with the former use referring to virtually any ruglike fabric that does not have pile. When used specifically the term refers to a more limited number of techniques, including slit tapestry, warp sharing, and various forms of interlocking tapestry weave. The first is most common in Turkey, where the kilims are often woven on narrow looms, and two mirror-image pieces are sewn together along the long edge to produce the completed kilim. The vertical colour junctions involve a discontinuity of the wefts, the coloured yarns that produce the design. At these boundaries there are small slits in the fabric. A double interlocking type of kilim is common among the Uzbeks of Afghanistan but occurs in only a few parts of Iran. Warp sharing, in which vertical slits are avoided by having yarn of adjacent color areas share the same warp, is also common in both of these areas.

      Extremely fine kilims of silk were woven for the Ṣafavid court (1502–1735), possibly in Kāshān (Kāshān carpet), and fine kilims were made during the late 19th century in Senneh (Senneh rug). Kilims have also been woven in parts of the Balkans, with those from areas closest to Turkey (Turkic peoples) showing features similar to Turkish kilims.

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Universalium. 2010.

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