It is widely agreed that the first ever bath towels originated from Turkey back in the 1600s. They started off as flat woven rectangular pieces of cotton and linen were originally used in Turkish Hammams (bath houses) and wereThe Ottomans, with their exceptional weaving expertise, then developed this flat woven technique, known today as the Peshtemal, or Hammam Towel, even further as demand for more elaborate designs grew. As they experimented they created a ‘looping technique’ (known as ‘Havly’) which gave the cloth an extra looped pile. This ancient Turkish invention, traditionally hand loomed , was later brought to Europe and industrialised, becoming known as Terry Towelling (after the French word ‘tirer’ meaning ‘to pull out’, referring to the pile loops which were pulled out by hand).
The popularity of factory made towels almost stamped out this refined weaving technique. Today, handlooms are once again being salvaged from the junkyards where they were disposed of earlier. Many of our weavers were on the brink of bankruptcy or had simply stopped weaving, yet have now repaired and put back into use their old shuttle looms. As we continue to spread the beauty of the handmade techniques of towel making as a luxury item, skilled weavers are once again going back to their profession.
Aside from reference to the origins of the towel, Turkish Towels are also revered because of the quality of the cotton grown in Turkey. It is known to have especially long fibers, allowing it to be spun into strong soft threads which, when woven, have exceptional absorbency and durability.