Old Kurdish Yatak (Shepherd’s Cloak)

Old Kurdish Yatak (Shepherd’s Cloak)


244 x 121 cm / 8'x 4'


This old Kurdish Yatak dates to the first half of the 20th century. It is a shepherd’s cloak woven for use in the high pastures of the Kurdish part of the Anatolian peninsula.

The vertical line stretching from the black diamond in the centre of the Yatak to one end is a seam with a selvedge which was sewn up for the purpose of displaying it as a rug. It would have been the opening of the cloak down the front. Thus it could serve a double function: as a warm coat during the day and a sleeping bag in the cold nights, so essentially an item of bedding (yatak means bed or mattress).

This double function of the Yatak explains the great depth of the pile, which is in excess of three centimetres. Woven in soft wool with a Turkish, or symmetrical, knot on a wool foundation, but with a loose weave to make it pliable, it is the epitome of simplicity, and it makes the beholder wonder whether this is a piece of contemporary art or indeed the work of a member of often very poor communities in remote areas of Kurdistan.

The Yatak  has been dyed with indigo. It would appear that it was actually over-dyed as a complete piece, which is highly unusual. Since the pile on this Yatak is so deep and the wool at the bottom of the pile has been sheltered from the dye stuffs, it has not taken the blue in the same way and appears to be much lighter, almost turquoise. This adds a dimension of depth to the surface and lends it a certain iridescence. The turquoise is also traceable on the back of the Yatak (see the additional images provided).

The Yatak is in excellent condition and would look great as a work of art on the wall or on the floor.