The Weaving Capital
Situated in the hillsides of the Denizli province of Turkey, close to the natural springs of the famous Pammukale, lies the town of Buldan (pronounced bull-done).
As with many regions in Turkey, Buldan has an extensive history dating back to its settlement in 1200BC. From ancient Roman ruins to traditional practices and ways of life, Buldan is rich in culture and tradition.
One of the most impressive lasting influences of Buldan’s history is the development of the town’s weaving and textile industry.
Buldan’s first looms and workshops were established as early as 800BC, and was later developed by the Romans into the region’s bustling textile capital. Buldan was renowned for its production of high quality textiles, with even the royal Sultans and Sultanas purchasing their garments made from the weavers of Buldan.
With the duel presence of the natural spring baths in the region, and the uniquely durable cotton from the nearby fields, came the creation of the peştemal. A lightweight, highly absorbent cloth, the peştemal was created for bathers to compliment their cleansing and social rituals at the Turkish bath houses.
The versatility of this cloth soon saw the peştemal entering the trading routes around Turkey and it fast became a highly sort after product.
Up until only recently, most families in Buldan relied on their livelihood to be sourced through weaving. With families passing the skill down from generation to generation, weaving represented a way of life and a connection to culture.
The modern setting of weaving in Buldan, however, has shifted drastically over the last fifty years. With significant developments of weaving technology, much of the craft is now done by modern machines in large regional factories. This competition has pushed the small, family-run businesses out of the market, and many have been forced to give up their trade as weavers.
Over half a century ago, nearly every home in Buldan had a weaving workbench set up. It is estimated that there were over three thousand of these old-style shuttle looms in the area. This has now reduced to less than 400 working machines. These workbenches are old and require frequent repairs. They are no competition to the enormous volumes that can be produced by the large factories.
At Studio Buldan, we support these individual master weavers to continue their skilful artwork of weaving. We want to help preserve this rare traditional practice and promote the appreciation of slow-textile processes.