Sarkoy Kilims & Ethnic Artifacts

Pirot is a small town in the South-East of Serbia where the tradition of kilim manufacturing was present for more than 500 years. Turkish name for Pirot was Sarkoy, thence the kilims from Pirot are also known as Sarkoy Kilims.

   Kilims from Pirot were made on vertical looms with slit tapestry technique, which provided the manufacture of a fabric of any desired length. So, beside of the several standard sizes, kilims could be of various dimensions.

The surface of kilim from Pirot is usually divided in these areas: outside border (spoljni ćenar), central border (ploča), inner border (unutrašnji ćenar) and the largest - central area (polje).

Red was the favourite colour, abundantly used on kilims from Pirot, in various shades. Red colour also had important symbolical meanings. It is universal symbol of love, joy, health and strength, but in Pirot there was also present its Christian symbolism connected to the Christ’s sacrifice, religious ardour and grace.

One of the favourite motives of weavers from Pirot was the turtle motive. It had a symbolical meaning of long-life, immortality and regeneration, but it was also connected to the role of a woman in a household, and as such it was a symbol of modesty in marriage and fertility.    

In the past the dyes used for colouring the wool were natural. But from the second half of the 19th century aniline dyes were introduced, too. In that way it was enabled the use of a wider palette of colours. On kilims from the second half of the 19th century and onwards accents in various vivid colours could be seen.

Densely woven and thin kilims are characteristic for the early 20th, 19th and earlier centuries. This structure of a kilim was conditioned by the exclusive use of the wool of typical local sheep breed. After the Second World War, when new breeds were introduced in the local environment, the quality of kilims changed, and they become thicker and of less refined manufacture.