Kutnu is a unique textile with a polished surface and colourful stripes. This exquisite fabric is produced by using silks yarns lengthwise and cotton wefts crosswise. This material possesses both the elegance and magnificence suited to royal attire and was even the favored material of the sultans as well as royals and the upper class societies in Europe.
Its sophisticated weaving method is not an easy one and involves intense hand labor. However the end product is so special that this labor-intensive process has remained unchanged for centuries. Today the craft is only kept alive in Gaziantep by a small group of artisans determined to continue this remarkable tradition. Kutnu has been woven in Gaziantep since the 16th century, and in the past was a highly desired fabric whose fame spread beyond Turkey to Europe and even America. In the early 1900s, it was so popular in Europe that the Turkish weavers could not keep up with the demand. Europeans tried to imitate the product but due to its highly intricate and refined process, they were unsuccessful.
The process begins with the silk yarns being made into warps and then being rewound into hanks, using a device known locally as a “devere”. The next step, which is the most important, involves the dyeing. After being soaked in cauldrons of boiling dye it is then dried and the threads are examined for any impurities. Short fibers are removed so that it does not break during weaving and finally it is combed.
The dyeing process known as “ikat” is one that has been used all around the world for hundreds of years. This complex technique is created by using special waterproof material to cover bundles of threads on the material to create detailed patterns. The material is then dyed while the tied up bundles are left untouched. Only the most skilled artisans are comfortable using this traditional technique, where they are able to produce fabric with either very simple or very intricate designs.
In recent years, kutnu has seen a surge in interest and the fabric is now in the early stages of regaining its recognition. With greater efforts in production as well as support of the local people who produce kutnu, we believe its fame will once again revive to its former glory.