Turkish Towels

Discover the traditional Turkish towel

We know you likely don't think about towels every day, but we think they deserve a second thought. Our signature product at Indigo Traders is the traditional Turkish bath towel known as the pestemal. Once you try this charming, lightweight towel, you may never go back to an ordinary terrycloth towel. For years we have traveled throughout Turkey in search of family-run textile makers who value tradition and insist on quality. We have discovered talented families still producing towels and home textiles as they were generations before, and we are proud to offer these textiles at Indigo Traders.

Frequently asked questions

What is a pestemal?

A pestemal (pesh-te-mahl) is the authentic Turkish bath towel. It is flat-woven with hand-tied fringe, typically made of Turkish cotton, linen or even silk. It is also known as a hamam towel as it is an essential element of the legendary Turkish bath experience. Pestemals come in countless designs, textures, weights and colors. The hand towel version of the pestemal is called a peskir (pesh-keer).

How is it different from a typical terrycloth towel?

Pestemals are lightweight, thin and extremely absorbent. They are big in size (typically 70 by 40 inches), but are very compact. Unlike a thick terrycloth towel, pestemals are flat-woven with a smooth, soft texture. Our pestemals are hand-woven from 100% Turkish cotton, linen or silk by small, family-run textile makers in Turkey.

Are they earth-friendly?

Yes! Pestemals are so lightweight, they are more energy efficient than a typical terrycloth towel. They dry more quickly after use, so they don't take on a musty smell. The environmentally-friendly result - they don't need laundering as often. When it comes time to wash them, they take much less space in the washer and less time in the dryer.

How do I use a pestemal towel?

Pestemals are perfectly suited for everyday use out of the shower or bath. They also make a lovely travel companion as they are compact and dry very quickly. Use them as a sarong on the beach, a picnic blanket, a table cloth, a couch throw, an airplane blanket, a shawl or a pool towel. The possibilities are endless.

How do I care for my pestemal?

Laundering a pestemal is simple, but keep it gentle. Machine wash in warm or cold with like colors. Tumble dry on low or line dry. Please do not use bleach, harsh detergents, dryer sheets or high heat. Pestemals 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.  

Are pestemals absorbent?

Yes. Turkish cotton is a curly cotton, which makes it ideal for absorbency. The long fibers of Egyptian cotton are ideal for super soft bed sheets, but Turkish cotton is preferred for absorbent towels. The more it is washed, the softer and more absorbent it becomes. By avoiding dryer sheets and fabric softener, you keep your Turkish cotton fibers in pristine condition. As many towels simply spread moisture around, pestemals actually absorb water. Absorbency is not determined by the thickness of the towel, but by the quality of the fibers.

How are pestemals made?

Traditional pestemals are handmade on simple wooden looms using locally produced cotton, linen or silk fibers. Our weavers often have their looms inside their homes with two and three generations participating in the production process. It is also a community enterprise with neighbors and other family members assisting in preparing the loom, spooling the bobbins and preparing the fibers. Your purchase supports these artisan communities and the centuries-old weaving traditions of Turkey.

Are pestemals made from organic cotton?

Many of our cotton products are made with organic cotton. Our weavers source cotton from their own region from farmers using natural production methods whenever they can. They are simply too small to be able to afford the organic certification, so they are not able to label their products as organic.

Shop our pestemals

Cotton towels Linen towels Silk towels

Meet our weavers

Search our shop