Turkish Towels…in Turkey

Last Updated on April 25, 2019

Today most of the world uses thick, thirsty Turkish bath towels, but for most of history the world dried off after the bath with plain old napless pieces of cloth.

It was in the 1600s that the Ottomans, famed for their carpet-weaving, brought fancy weaving to the common towel. Technically, what they made was a 2/2 twill weave with extra-warp loop pile, which means their towels had not just a warp and weft (like any cloth) but also a pile: loops of thread that stuck up from the basic cloth.

The loops helped to catch and hold the water, making drying after the bath easier, faster and more pleasant. By happy coincidence, Turkey is among the world’s foremost producers of cotton and weavers of cotton cloth, including Turkish toweling.

Drying off is a big deal in Turkey not just because of all the Turkish baths (hamam), but also because of all the natural hot-water spas such as those at Termal (near Yalova), Çekirge (in Bursa), Pamukkale, and dozens of others.

My favorite use of Turkish toweling is the thick, heavy, cozy bathrobes called bornozYou may have seen (and worn) cheap terrycloth copies in luxury hotels that provide bathrobes for their guests. The true Turkish bornoz is far thicker and heavier than terrycloth. It’s really a wonderful cotton after-bath cocoon.

You can buy bornoz easily in Turkey. The problem is that the big, bulky robes take a lot of space in your suitcase—in fact, one robe would fill a normal suitcase. You may need to buy a cheap soft travel bag to ship home your bornoz.

Women in Turkish Baths

Turkish Bath

Turkish Spas

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Turkey: Bright Sun, Strong Tea, by Tom Brosnahan

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