If you try to google “Pestemal” you’ll undoubtedly be confronted with a slew of web pages with titles like
HAMMAM TURKISH PESTEMAL PESHTEMAL FOUTA.
For those of us that don’t understand what all these words mean, this can be pretty intimidating. Hopefully our visitors will appreciate our down-to-earth clear cut explanation of what Pestemal is and isn’t.
WHAT IS PESTEMAL?
A pestemal or peshtamal (pesh-te-mahl) is an authentic Turkish towel. It is flat-woven with a hand-tied fringe, generally made with Turkish cotton. Pestemal are colorful, fast drying, absorbent and an essential element of the Turkish bath experience. Pestemal are used as towels, decorative throws and packable travel towels.
The reasons a Turkish pestemal is special, and different from the towels you are used are:
1) It’s made with high quality Turkish cotton, which is known for being great for textiles such as towels. This is because Turkish cotton is not too soft and plushy, and won’t absorb too much water.
Turkish cotton gives certain characteristics to the Pestemal, such as:
- The Turkish Cotton Sheen – Cheap lower quality imitators often try to copy the Turkish Pestemal, but end up with a product that feels different, just because they don’t use real Turkish cotton. After you see a real pestemal, you’ll know what we’re taking about.
- Fast Drying – Because Turkish cotton isn’t TOO absorbent, Turkish Pestemal ends up being fast drying and pushes water off of your skin, instead of just soaking it in and becoming a big ball of mildew.
2) It’s compact & packable – The pestemal is handwoven in looms in such a way that is very lightweight and easy to pack. This means that it is a lot more compact than a regular towel.
3) It’s cultural – You could buy a pestemal solely with the expectation of getting a great Turkish towel — and you’d be satisfied. But the thing about Pestemals that really makes a huge difference is that each towel has a story. Especially if you’re shopping with us at our Pestemal store.
Each of our towels is made by a villager from a tiny village called Babadag, they only have 3,000 inhabitants and this is their livelihood. Buying a turkish towel from us will be supporting the livelihoods of the Turkish people!
What Are Pestemal for?
A pestemal has many uses in and around the home. Depending on the width and the number of layers, a pestemal towel can be used as blanket, throw, table covering or beach towel.
How Are Pestemal made?
Traditional, high quality pestemal are made through a handlooming process. Yarn is loaded up onto looms, and is then sown to create these pestemal towels. There are a lot of “pestemal” available that are made in China, and are low quality imitators. Generally — if it seems too good to be true, it is!
What’s the difference between Pestemal, Peshtamal, Fouta Towel, Hammam Towel, etc?
If you google around for PESTEMAL, you’ll unvariably end up seeing a lot of confusing terms.
Pestemal is the anglicized spelling of the Turkish word peştemal – which is the word to for this traditional towel. Some people spell pestemal like the tTurkishword minus the “s” and others spell it the way pestemal is pronounced. So Peshtamal is also a common spelling.
Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, and borders Syria and Iraq. There is a lot of arabic influence in the area, the arabic way to say “bath” (as in bath towel) is “Hammam”. So oftentimes when people talk about pestemal they will specify that its’ a Hammam towel (A bath towel.)
A fouta is a “piece of thin patterned cotton or linen fabric used in many Mediterranean countries.” (Thanks Wikipedia.) Fouta describes the kind of fabric and the design of the towel.