Jail Rugs, Cezaevi

When you think of a jail cell, what do you picture? Most likely, a dismal and cold room that has been vacant for weeks or months. But what if you knew that in some cells, there are inmates weaving jail rugs? Jail Rugs, also known as Prison Rugs, are rugs that are hand-made by inmates in any one of the thousands of prison facilities across the world.

The sector was created to discipline and reform inmates, provide them with employable skills for when they are released, and generate cash for the facility. Prison officials promoted it because they wanted inmate activities that were worthwhile and useful. Because carpet weaving and knotting involved a lot of repetition, jail staff favored using them too. Carpet weaving served as a kind of manual training that also helped pay for incarceration via the sale of its own creations. 

A bizarre situation occurred in Turkey about prison rugs. The women in jail in Sivas, a city famous for its carpets in Turkey, are still weaving the rugs that were purchased over 30 years ago. The workshop was established in 1985 and got over 550 orders in 2 years. No more orders were taken after 1987, yet the inmates are still trying to finish them. Only 350 are completed and sent to their owners, and 200 more are still waiting.

The prisoner official states that there used to be more inmates and weaving looms before, but now they can't keep up with orders, even if they are from more than 30 years ago. 

"We try to reach the owners to confirm their order after 30 years." Says the prison manager. "There are times we had to track heirs and ask if they want the rug their parents ordered. We put it on the market if anyone decides not to take it after the rug is woven.

The rugs woven by 24 inmates staying there take at least 2 years each. There are around 360k knots per square meter. Every motif, color, and the pattern resembles the sentiments of the woman weaving the rug. Some of those rugs are named "The Star of Sivas," "Vienna," and "Ottoman Rug."

The inmates receive a needed sense of pride and accomplishment while they serve their time. In addition, they can express themselves through their rug's fabric selection, color selection, and overall design.

An inmate who has been staying in 4 years has been weaving rugs since her first day there. "Every emotion, hope, and sadness we experience is reflected on the rugs we make. Our mood can be seen through our weaving."

So, the next time you picture a jail cell, imagine soft and luxurious rugs made by its inmates. This is the case for jail rugs in several states.

Meet the Author

Deniz Adam

More posts


Subscribe to hear out

the latest news!