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History of Turkish Towels

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The Turkish towel is essentially a bath towel measuring approximately 90cm x 110cm. Made of cotton or linen originally, later and especially in the 18th century, it was constructed with a looped pile section in the center.

It was a very important part of Turkish social life and continues to be so, but originally it was meant for ceremonial bath for a bride before her wedding and for important occasions later in life. The Turkish `hamams` too have an undeniable relationship with these towels. For a complete set of towels were available and is still available which consisted of different towels for the shoulder, hips and head. This elaborate arrangement was made keeping the special Turkish baths in mind.

The towel would still have been the drab piece of bath accessory if the Ottomans did not intercede. They brought style, design and fancy weaving to the towels with the help of their well-honed carpet weaving skills in the 17th century. Their towel was different in the sense that their 2/2-twill weave had extra-warp loop pile. It actually means that apart from the warp and weft of any other woven cloth their towel also had pile or loops of thread standing up from the rudimentary cloth.

The towels that we use all over the world actually were first woven in modern day Bursa in the 18th century. Weavers invented different techniques for these towels and the towels known as `havly` at the beginning are now known as `havlu`, which is actually the Turkish word for towels. The specialty and much of the fame of these towels naturally rest on the fact that these towels were hand woven, which limited their manufacturing to 3-4 towels a day.


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