From the Arabic word Kut’n’ (cotton)
By alternating warp silk yarns (vertical) and weft cotton yarn (horizontal) Kutnu fabric gives a beautiful sheen that is both beautiful to the touch and to the eye. The colours are bright and vivid and in mesmerising patterns such as the ikat and including a variety of stripes.
It’s a fabric that requires skill, many stages and many hands to make. Now woven on a hand loom or jacquard loom, the techniques are the same and there is a real pride in keeping this heritage alive. Some of the stages are: winding the silk thread, dyeing the skeins, drying them in the sun, dividing the filaments by hand and then threading the strands through the loom- the most time consuming stage as there are more than 2000 threads! Each stage requires a different master craftsman.
This type of weaving is now only practised in the Anatolian city of Gazantiep, in south eastern Turkey. This method of weaving came from Syria (being 97 Kms away from Aleppo) but was greatly developed more than 400 years ago by the Aintab (the name for Gazantiep until the 1920’s) craftsman. These craftsmen were able to export the cloth and gained recognition as Gaziantep was on the Silk Road.
The fabric was used to make Sutltan’s kaftans and it was then used to dress the wealthy. Today it is still used in traditional costumes especially the ones of folk dancers but also by designers to create dresses, kaftans and home goods.