Azra Living exists to add just a bit (or a lot) of dreaminess, colour, style, and innovation to your life. This time, we are pleased to share how you can enjoy the pleasure of incorporating the stylish simplicity and versatility of the PESHTEMAL, the traditional Turkish towel, in your life.
So what is this peshtemal that has got users raving and wanting more and perhaps nothing less? For the uninitiated, one may very well ask, “what on earth is a peshtemal?” But for the old-time users and loyal believers, it is a resounding “yes please!”, anytime.
The short answer would be: a peshtemal is THE authentic Turkish bath towel. It is also known as a hamam towel, as it is an essential element of the legendary Turkish bath experience. But there is a much longer story behind this “simple” towel that is very much steeped in the history and heritage of Turkey.
History and heritage
Buldan, a district in Denizli, which is also known as the textile capital of Turkey, is home to the tradition of hand-woven Turkish towels. Most peshtemal manufacturers in Turkey are located in this small town. Weaving is the inherited occupation in this town, where families have been weaving peshtemal towels for generations using simple wooden looms.
Today, weavers often have their looms inside their homes with multi-generational family members participating in creation of each item. It is an integrated community enterprise with neighbors and other family members assisting in in each other throughout the entire production process. Purchasing these peshtemals thus means you are supporting these artisan communities and the centuries-old weaving traditions of Turkey.
It has been said that in 1390, before his marriage with Hafsa Hatun, the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid I personally ordered his kaftan and peshtemals to be hand-woven in Buldan. Following this, the peshtemal became even more culturally significant in the 17th century. Within the Ottoman palace, the royal women and courtiers wanted peshtemals that were increasingly beautiful and ornate. They hired weavers to create a wide range of stylish and more intricately designed peshtemals. From then on, peshtemals grew beyond their origins as a simple towel for the Turkish baths to become an item of both fashion and utility.
Style and versatility
Traditional peshtemals are 100% cotton but today they are woven with different kinds of yarns like cotton, linen, bamboo or silk. These tightly woven creations are extremely strong and durable, and feature a stylish handcrafted fringe that makes them chic as well as practical. These versatile towels are perfect for both bath and beach, and can be worn around the body like a sarong, for a chic cover-up. Coming in a wide array of colours, styles and sizes, they double up nicely as interior design accents such as blankets, runners, throws, or even as impromptu picnic blankets.
Notably too, these peshtemals are extremely lightweight, highly absorbent and quick drying. As such, they are more energy-efficient than a typical terrycloth towel. They dry more quickly after use, so they don't take on that musty smell -- they don't need laundering as often! And when it does come to washing them, they take up less space in the washer and much less time in the dryer.
And because peshtemal towels are flat-woven, they’re extremely light and take up very little space, making them the perfect travel companion. They are big in size (typically 70 by 40 inches), but are very compact. They are easy to roll up and they pack just beautifully.
The possibilities of the peshtemal are indeed endless! Having one (or two, or more) means supporting artisans and their cultural traditions and helping preserve their beautiful and timeless craft, while finding infinite ways to utilize this stylish and multi-functional towel and add just a bit more flair and comfort to your everyday life.
Start your journey and browse through our current collection of peshtemals here. Enjoy!
P.S. A tip on caring for your peshtemal
Washing a peshtemal is simple, but keep it gentle. Machine wash in warm or cold with like colors. Tumble dry on low or line dry. Do not use bleach, harsh detergents, dryer sheets or high heat. By avoiding dryer sheets and fabric softener, you keep your Turkish cotton fibers in pristine condition. Peshtemals get better with use and some need to be "broken in" by washing and drying them in a dryer on medium heat a few times. This makes them softer and more absorbent.