Turkish Towels: What is so Special About Them?

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Turkish towels, also known as peshtemal towels, have become increasingly popular in recent years. But what exactly are these towels and what makes them so special? Keep reading to learn all about the history, uses, and benefits of traditional Turkish towels!

A Brief History of Turkish Towels

Turkish towels have a long and storied history dating back hundreds of years. They originated in Turkey, where they are known as peshtemal (meaning “for the hamam”) and have traditionally been used in Turkish baths called hammams.

The first peshtemal towels were woven from cotton and linen and often featured colorful stripes or patterns. Weaving peshtemal was a highly specialized skill, passed down through generations of artisans. To this day, many traditional Turkish towels are still handwoven using old-fashioned floor looms.

Over the centuries, Turkish towels spread throughout the Middle East and Europe via trade routes like the Silk Road. Their ability to absorb water and dry quickly made them popular with travelers and bathhouse visitors. The Crusaders are believed to have brought peshtemal back from Turkey to Europe in the 13th century.

Today, Turkish towels are prized around the world for their beauty, versatility, and quality craftsmanship. Many are still produced using traditional weaving methods that have endured for hundreds of years.

What Makes Turkish Towels So Special?

So what is it that makes Turkish towels so uniquely wonderful? Here are some of their best features:

Absorbency – The cotton and sometimes linen fibers used to weave Turkish towels gives them incredible absorbency. They can soak up large amounts of water quickly, making them perfect for drying off after a bath or swim.

Lightweight – Peshtemal are lighter in weight than typical bath or beach towels. This makes them easy to pack for travel and comfortable to wear wrapped around the body.

Fast-drying – The flat-woven structure allows Turkish towels to dry very rapidly compared to terry cloth towels. You can use them again and again, even in humid environments.

Multi-functional – Turkish towels aren’t just for drying off! Their lightweight, absorbent fabric makes them useful as beach blankets, picnic blankets, yoga mats, table runners, and more.

Stylish – From simple stripes to intricate patterns, Turkish towels come in a rainbow of colors and designs. Their timeless style adds a touch of elegance to any bathroom or poolside.

Natural fibers – Most authentic Turkish towels are woven from 100% Turkish cotton, which is prized for its long fibers and softness. Linen is also commonly used. These natural fibers feel great against the skin.

Durability – Handwoven on old-fashioned looms, quality Turkish towels will often last for many years with proper care. The flat-weave style is very long-lasting compared to terry cloth.

Traditional craft – Turkish towels continue to be produced using centuries-old weaving methods that create beautiful, unique pieces. Buying one supports this traditional handicraft.

How Are Turkish Towels Used?

One reason Turkish towels have remained popular for so long is their incredible versatility. Here are some of the main ways these traditional towels can be used:

  • Bath towels – Their high absorbency makes Turkish towels fantastic for drying off after bathing or showering. They soak up moisture quickly without feeling heavy.
  • Beach and pool towels – Turkish towels work beautifully for drying off and lounging after swimming. The lightweight fabric won’t weigh you down or get too hot.
  • Sarongs and cover ups – Wrap a Turkish towel around your waist as a stylish swimsuit cover up. The classic stripes and patterns look chic poolside or at the beach.
  • Yoga and fitness towels – Take a Turkish towel to your next yoga class or gym session. The absorbent fabric will keep you dry during sweaty workouts.
  • Picnic and outdoor blankets – Heading on a picnic or camping trip? Turkish towels make excellent lightweight, quick-drying blankets for sitting on the ground.
  • Table runners – Dress up your dining table with a brightly colored Turkish towel as a runner down the center. The pretty patterns and tassel details add flair.
  • Prayer rugs – In Turkey, peshtemal are traditionally used as prayer rugs due to their absorbency and durability. The beautiful designs make prayer time more special.
  • Decor accents – Hang a Turkish towel on the wall, fold it into a basket, or place it in a bowl. The gorgeous patterns and tassels make for chic home decor.

Caring For Your Turkish Towels

To keep your handwoven Turkish towels looking and feeling their best, follow these care tips:

  • Wash in cold water on a gentle cycle. Avoid hot water to prevent damage to the fibers.
  • Use a mild detergent or wool wash. Harsh detergents can be too abrasive for the cotton and cause fading.
  • Line dry or tumble dry on low. Never use high heat, which can damage or shrink the fibers.
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softeners. They can diminish the towels’ absorbency and bright colors.
  • Wash similar colors together. The dyes in Turkish towels may bleed when first washed.
  • Shake out and air regularly. This prevents mildew from forming in damp towels.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure. Direct sun can fade the beautiful colors over time.

Following these care instructions will help ensure your Turkish towels last for many years! Proper storage and handling will also prevent rips or snags in the delicate flat-woven fabric.

Turkish Towels for Every Style

One of the great things about Turkish towels is the incredible variety available today. From classic stripes to brilliantly colored patterns, there’s a peshtemal out there for every sense of style.

Traditional stripes – The most classic Turkish towel design features bold stripes in colors like red, blue, black, and white. This timeless look is perfect for a traditional bathroom.

Colorful patterns – Many modern Turkish towels showcase vibrant all-over patterns like ikat, floral designs, paisley, and exotic motifs. The colorful styles add a fun pop.

Reversible styles – Some Turkish towels have different patterns on each side, giving you two stylish looks in one. A reversible towel is like getting two for the price of one!

Luxury details – High-end Turkish towels may have intricate gold or silver embroidery, beaded fringe, or posh tassels. These luxury touches add glamour to any bathroom.

Spa styles – For a relaxing spa vibe, look for super-soft Turkish towels in solid white, cream, or light blue. The zen colors and cozy feel are spa-worthy.

Kids’ towels – For the little ones, choose Turkish towels with fun, youthful prints like animals, balloons, or superheroes. The lightweight fabric is great for kids.

Organic and natural – For the eco-conscious, there are Turkish towels made from 100% organic cotton, linen, or bamboo. The sustainable fibers are gentler on skin.

Muted solids – Prefer understated elegance? Opt for Turkish towels in solid, muted shades like sage, taupe, or slate. The minimalist look is serenely beautiful.

Wrapping Up

For centuries, Turkish towels have been treasured for their incredible craftsmanship, absorbency, and versatility. Woven from natural fibers using traditional techniques, they are lightweight, fast-drying, and uniquely stylish.

Peshtemal make great multi-purpose towels that add a touch of luxury to bathing, yoga, travel, and decor. Their vibrant patterns and pretty tassel details lend beauty and flair. And their long-lasting durability means your Turkish towels will stay looking fabulous year after year when properly cared for.

So next time you need new towels, consider choosing traditional handmade Turkish towels. Let these ancient yet modern wonders bring artistry and functionality into your home!

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