What is a peştemal?
A peştemal (pesh-te-mahl) is an authentic Turkish towel, flat-woven with a hand-tied fringe, generally made with Turkish cotton and cotton blends (cotton/bamboo, cotton/linen, cotton/silk). These colorful towels are quick-drying, absorbent, multipurpose, and (of course) an essential element of the Turkish bath experience! Try them as an everyday bath towel, sarong, mini-throw, at the beach or on a backpacking trip.
How do I care for my Turkish towel?
For the first wash, we recommend that you soak the peştemal in cold water for 4 hours and hang and drip dry to activate absorbency. After the initial wash, always use cold water in a delicate cycle and hang dry. You will notice that they don't require dryers. Do not use softeners, since they coat the fabric with chemicals and alter the absorbency. This product will serve you and loved ones for years to come. Please contact out customer service for questions and feedback.
What is the historical context of the peştemal?
Historically, the Persian, Phrygian, Lydian, Roman and Byzantine empires lived and ruled the region. Turkish baths, called hammams, were likely derived from Roman and Byzantine baths. From the Roman Empire, they extended to Turkey in the 7th Century, under the Seljuk Empire. The hammam was also a gathering point to meet, relax, catch up with family, friends and celebrate major life events such as weddings and births.
The peştemal, a flat woven cloth traditionally woven by women on hand looms, was a very important part of hammam culture. Favored by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and their harems, men wore peştemals wrapped around the waist while women wore them higher up covering their entire torso for modesty.
Traditionally, when young Turkish couple are engaged to be wed, they are each given a traditional hammam set which consisted of:
• homemade soap in a kıldanlık (soap box),
• bath glove made from palm root (kese),
• pumice stone,
• brass or copper hammam bowl,
• bath clogs (takunya),
• and most important of all, a peştemal.
Sanjak (sub province) of Denizli was the center cloth production center in western Anatolia, during the Ottoman rule, starting as early as 15th century, and had its prime days during the later 19th century. Fame of the region rested at the time on the output of two of depending large villages, Buldan and Kadıköy. Buldan has been a very important center of Ottoman Empire’s textile industry and, to this day, is largely based on independent crafts persons and small family owned workshops. This tradition is actively pursued to this day by Michael Turk & Co. which operates, contracts, and partners with these workshops providing employment, training, and essential tools of the trade.