Pestemal have been loomed for many generations in Turkey where they were historically used in the Turkish communal baths, also known as hammam, as both a Turkish bath towel and as a status symbol of sorts. Traditionally, an individual’s pestemal was indicative of his/her status in society depending on the quality of the fibers and the weave; linen has always had the reputation as a very high-quality, luxurious fiber.
Pestemal have a cadre of worldwide devotees today due to both their beauty and practicality.Many different countries have a multi-purpose textile similar to pestemals, the most well-known being the fouta from Tunisia.
Pestemals were the first product we carried after launching Ella Lou. I fell in love with pestemals when visiting France, where they are used extensively, and traveled to Turkey to find artisan producers. After an extensive search, we found a collective of artisans that work to produce pestemals the way their families have made them for generations - on old shuttle-style looms.
By purchasing Ella Lou hand-loomed pestemals you are supporting artisan weavers and their families. The weavers that loom our pestemals are paid fair wages. Most work in their village or family units to weave and finish pestemals; frequently the men loom the pestemals while women prep the threads for looming and twist the fringe on each completed pestemal.
The domestic market for traditionally-made pestemals has disappeared due to the influx of large factories in Turkey. Many weavers have lost their livlihood and been forced to seek alternative employment. By purchasing our pestemals you are not only purchasing the high-quality pestemals, but also proving a livelihood for artisan families and helping to ensure the art of looming is passed down to future generations.