Memories Of A Village Lady

Browsing through my photo albums the other day, I came across a picture of an old village lady on the beach in Turkey that brought back a memory I wanted to share with you.  It was about two years after opening the doors of Abrash, and I had taken some time off to visit my family in Turkey.  Every time we visit family, we try to gather everyone at a vacation spot so we can all relax and enjoy our time together.

This particular time, we decided to go to Assos, an Aegean-coast seaside retreat about 40 miles south of Troy.  Though I had always heard great things about the town, I had never vacationed in the area.  I was especially excited for this trip, not only because of the beautiful landscape, but also because of the many small villages in the region where woven arts are a crucial part of the economy.

On one of these days, while I was enjoying the peace and serenity under the sun with soothing sounds of the waves, I saw an old village woman carrying a pile of kilims on her back, trying to sell them.  Most tourists ignored her presence.  It was a hot day, so I asked her if she wanted some water after carrying all those heavy kilims from the mountains where she lived.  She put down her pile next to me and started to tell me her story.

This villager’s family was part of a Turkoman tribe who makes these kilims for their homes and to make a living.  Her son was getting married and they needed money for his wedding, but after coming to the beach to sell these pieces for several days, she didn’t have much hope left to raise the money.  I was very saddened by the hardships she told me about.  I asked her to open the pile so I could look at the quality of her work.  I was very impressed by the natural dyes and workmanship.  The more I spoke with her, the more people were intrigued and wanted to join the conversation.

I raved about these kilims to the group, and within half an hour, I had sold all of them for her (even in my bathing suit :-) ).  This woman couldn’t believe that everything had sold.  Not only did she not have to carry them on her back all the way to the village, which was quite far, but she could also afford to buy a bus ticket back instead of trekking back by foot.

Making a small difference in this woman’s life warmed my heart.  Now she could give the money to her son for his wedding.  It’s moments like this when I realize how much I love what I do and why it is that I started this gallery in the first place.  Come in and take a look at some of the kilims we have in store now.  Each of them has a story just as beautiful and touching as this.


It wasn’t long ago that I found my inspiration for starting Abrash. It was a lengthy process that took an unsatisfying job, patient soul-searching and the support of my family (especially my husband and 2 beautiful daughters).  Naturally, my growing passion for oriental rugs had a lot to do with finding this great joy in my life.

It has been approximately 11 years since I left the banking world through a series of systematic “reorganizations” happening after the Y2K crisis.  At the time, I was not the happiest soul to be laid-off from my job/profession.  I didn’t really enjoy what I did, but I hadn’t considered what other possibilities existed for me out there either.  Sometimes we have to experience a struggle to explore and discover new and better options in life: a blessing in disguise.

I always loved the arts but didn’t go to school for it.  I was brought up with the notion that if you become an artist, you would starve.  But what about loving what you do in life?  I guess that is a luxury to many in this universe.

My beginnings in the carpet world started with a visitor who came to Cleveland to give a lecture at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Her name is Josephine Powell, an American nomad. She is the source of inspiration who widened my horizons and ignited my passion for the woven arts.  During her visit to Cleveland, Josephine was staying with Dede Moore, a kind lady who owned a rug gallery in Shaker Heights.  When Dede offered me to help her in her gallery, I felt consumed by the thrilling opportunity to learn this art form.  I wasn’t getting paid for what I did, but it didn’t matter, I was really enjoying myself in this so-called role as an ‘apprentice’.

Two years passed by, and I felt I needed to continue this journey on my own.  I needed to combine my passion with a viable business idea.  I was actually quite scared to start a venture on my own without any retail experience.  After knocking on every door for available space, I found an existing design store that was interested and proposed to share some of their space.  There, I learned more about what it meant to work in the industry and provide hand-woven oriental rugs to clients for interior decorating purposes.  Another five years passed by and it was time again to move on and be a completely independent entity.   Abrash, my third daughter :-) , was born December 2006 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Folklife Carpets

Enjoy reading below “The Idea Takes Root” by George Jevremovich, owner of Woven Legends.

Abrash is a proud dealer of Woven Legends rugs; Folklife rugs are available at our gallerie.

The Book Of Woven Legends presents an extensive—though far from complete—catalogue of our carpets woven between 1982 to the present, from our pioneering and experimental Azeri carpets in the 80’s to our forays through the years of many village, town and classical traditions. Included are portraits from the field, focused on the people, land, culture and processes that together help describe the revival of one of the world’s oldest arts. In an attempt to bring a sense of coherence to a daunting and little understood art, we also provide the “creation story” (Anatomy Of A Carpet) of a Woven Legends carpet, step by step, from start to finish, from village loom to the living room. Also, a selection of residential, commercial, and public views of interiors and spaces for which a wide variety of Woven Legends carpets were selected or custom designed.

Starting decades before “sustainability” and “green” gained market currency, our mission remains constant: to pursue, experiment and recover the knowledge of traditions that were, after thousands of years of research and development, abandoned, a situation that began with the invention of spinning machines and aniline dyes during the Industrial Revolution—displacing tens of thousands of artisans from the Balkans to Central Asia—and continued into the post-industrial age with its focus on program and predictability: standardized designs, sizes, color-ways, delivery schedules… Looking back to 1979, it was easy to see that all knots were not created equal, that two traditional Turkish, or Persian, or Caucasian rugs—one antique, one modern—might share the same design, size, type of knot and knot-count, but only one was “beautiful”. It didn’t require an expert or trained eye to see the difference; it was obvious. The question was, why? Answers were varied and vague: “antiques are better because they are antiques”; “the art vanished with the tribe”; “give it time and this one will be as beautiful” (a dealer favorite).

Interestingly, it took modern science and research, and a passion for antique Turkish village rugs by a German chemist (Harold Bohmer) for the Dobag project (1981) and their village cooperatives to help undo the damage. Their introduction of natural dyeing, their adherence to using only local hand-spun woolen yarn, and to commissioning designs that were indigenous and still in use in the Ayvacik and Yuntdag areas of western Anatolia, set the stage. An idea took root. Woven Legends’ task was to expand on the natural dye recipes of Dobag, to adhere to its own “only hand-spun wool” rule, and to move to eastern Anatolia, where mountainous terrain, weather and conditions supported—with the assistance of local government—the creation of a cottage industry capable of weaving large sizes in atelier settings, and where it was possible (for a variety of reasons) for us to experiment across a broad range of traditional weave structures and designs. Our goal here—long overdue—is to present a coherent picture of our work and values. We live in a new century where the teachings and work of William Morris have never had greater relevance: “To give people pleasure in the things they perforce make; to give others pleasure in the things they perforce use; that is the great office of decoration.” It is not foolish now to invoke aesthetics as a basis for thinking about the future, any more than it is romantic to say that unbridled industrial development threatens the future of our planet. It is not too late to assert that traditional art, to the degree that it can respond and embrace our common need to find work rewarding, while also allowing us to take pleasure in the beauty of the objects that fill our homes and lives, may be the best option we have in bringing human needs and desires into balance with the rest of the world.

New Store Hours!

Please make note of our new store hours, set by the needs of our loyal customers:

Monday 2:00pm – 6:30pm
Wednesday 12:00pm – 6:30pm
Thursday 12:00pm – 6:30pm
Friday 12:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm – 7:00pm
Also available by appointment

Looking for something specific? Be sure to call us at 216-320-9300 and we’ll see what we can do for you!

A Customer’s Point-Of-View

The following video is one a customer filmed of our gallerie a few months back. He walked into our gallerie and enjoyed the art and the environment so much that he asked if he could film a video. Little did we know that it would turn into this!

Abrash Galerie, Cleveland from Cemal Ekin on Vimeo.