In Turkish the name Usak means ‘valet’, ‘servant’ or a ‘hail-fellow-well-met’, a term of joshing but respectful endearment between men. The town of Usak is not associated with any noted ancient site, though we do know that a town named Grimenothyrae, later changed to Trajanopolis, stood here in antiquity and struck its own coins in the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian.
Not weighted down by ancient heritage, Usak still remains quite a traditional Turkish Anatolian town, so we could surmise that its kilim designs are apt to carry on motifs and symbols brought by the nomadic Turkish clans that came to Anatolia early in the last millennium. The town and the region are, however, also in the process of transition, which is quite evident in the manufacture of kilims where both individual “cottage industry” and industrial workshop production methods coexist. The latter is geared almost exclusively for export with colors usually toned down by fading in the summer sun to suit the Western buyer while products of the family loom, destined for personal use or limited retail trade, tend to a brighter, more vibrant palette. Sizes vary from medium to very large, with the square being a common shape; red ground is common, with blue, green mauve, black, yellow and white used in designs which generally have a large central medallion and decorated borders.
It must be noted that Usak workshop kilims produced for the commercial and export market are often undistinguishable from commercial workshop kilims of Denizli and nearby Esme.