Handcrafted Vintage Carpets Land in Freeport
A couple’s new shop brings rich Turkish rug-weaving traditions to Maine.
ABOVE Village Uncommon’s Murat and Ami Unal, pictured in their Freeport shop, source mid-century, handwoven Anatolian rugs (from the Asian region of modern Turkey), as well as pillow covers stitched from salvaged kilims.
TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KRISTINA O'BRIEN
When you know what to look for, the rug tells its own story,” Murat Unal says. Seated on a pile of folded carpets in the booth he and his wife, Ami, run at the Freeport Market, he gestures toward an intricate circa 1960s Oushak in complementary navy and rust tones that make its central medallion appear slightly convex. “This is a dowry piece from Taşpinar, in central Turkey. They use certain colors in rugs made for their own homes, as opposed to being sold, and, in this region, this is the palette you will find.” Nearby, a circa 1970s, caramel-tone area rug features a wavy-lined grid punctuated with geometric motifs that appear similarly freeform. “This is from Kars, in the east, where they don’t use very much dye,” Murat says. “I believe passing on these stories is important — these rugs are not coming from a factory that makes a million that are the same.”
Murat became enamored of Turkish rug-weaving traditions when he was a child growing up in Izmir. His father was a tour guide who led visitors on week-long excursions that culminated at carpet shops, where Murat and his mother would join him. “It was magical, with thousands of rugs and guys flipping them out like a show,” Murat says. After he married Ami — a Lisbon Falls native he met when she came to Istanbul to stay with a friend, who happened to be Murat’s roommate — in 2014, the two decided, “we need to do something that will link our countries,” she says. Remembering Murat’s childhood fascination, his mother suggested a vintage-rug business and, in 2017, Village Uncommon was born.
Initially based in Istanbul, the couple sold carpets online and traveled to United States markets before moving to Lisbon Falls last summer. They primarily source handwoven Anatolian rugs (from the Asian part of modern Turkey) from the 1940s through the 1980s, when production of handmade goods in the region began to slow. Unlike more precious antique carpets, “ours are, you buy it, you use it, you don’t tiptoe around it,” Murat says. Then, he hopes, you pass it, and its story, on.