The Turkish Pestemal towel may be filling up your IG, but it actually has long historical roots. Its fame began in the Turkish baths aka “hammams”, its name originates from Persian, and it’s an evolved version of the oldest form of human clothing - the loincloth.
The first use of the loincloth in Anatolia (the greater parts of present-day Turkey), was for hammams, to cover the more private areas of the body. This could be arguably the most recognized loincloth style in the present day as peştemals can be found in hotels, spas, homes, beaches, and boutique retail stores. They were even used in craftsmen ceremonies to symbolize the completion of training of a master to an apprentice. Although they are more popular for the home and beach, they are still used practically by women in the Black Sea area of Turkey as aprons to collect tea and prevent clothes from getting dirty while working, and as headscarves. The different colours used would traditionally represent different regions. Now globally, peştemals are used in the bathroom, beaches, saunas and spas, the gym, on garden and home furniture, and even as shawls and beach coverups.
The loincloth, which has been used for thousands of years by humanity as well as Anatolia, has stuck around due to its versatility. They are light, absorbent, dry quickly, flat enough to not hold dirt, don’t take much space in a closet or luggage, and have a multitude of purposes. The versatility is increased by the different weave thicknesses, patterns, and use of different natural yarns (linen, cotton, bamboo, hemp). The use of natural yarn makes the peştemal ideal and healthy for children and those with sensitive skin. There’s even an anti-bacterial aspect to them as they are thinner than traditional towels, so they dry faster giving less chance for bacteria to grow.
Looming & Quality✨
Traditionally, peştemals are hand loomed and have hand tassled ends. As modern technologies developed and global demand increased, power looms are now used while the ends of peştemals are still hand tied. Unfortunately, many stores sell peştemals of lower quality and with the use of polyester. Polyester makes peştemals towels less absorbent and less soft, taking away from the positive points of using a peştemal. We're all about the feel good, so Sende peştemals use 100% Turkish Cotton and are OEKTOEX certified to be safe from any toxic substances. As a fun fact, our towels are also made in the area of Turkey where the worlds first looped towels originate (think normal every day towels). Our Cloud peştemal is natural, non-dyed ecru cotton, and the rest of our peştemals use organic Turkish cotton. Check them out 🍯☀️.
Also, how do you pronounce it... 😅
Peştemal sounds like "pesh-te-mal" in english. The curly tailed 's' sounds like a 'SH' in english. For easier writing on english keyboards, we just use "pestemal" or "peshtemal"🙈.