The Turkish tallit is actually not from Turkey, but from Tunisia. During the 19th century, when Tunisia was under Ottoman rule (hence the name “Turkish”), a sultan banned linen from the country. These wool tallits soon became popular because they could be presumed to be free of shatnez (a fiber combination prohibited by Torah law).
Heaviest Wool Tallit Available
Made from a dense weave, the Echt Turkish Tallit (“genuine Turkish tallit”) is the heaviest wool tallit available. It also features double-knotted fringes. A variation on the Echt Turkish Tallit is the Kmo Turkish Tallit (“faux”), which is made of a somewhat lighter woolen weave. Today, the Turkish tallit is often chosen by Chassidim or as a gift for a Jewish groom or anyone else looking for a traditional prayer shawl with a distinctive, regal look.
Echt Turkish Tallit vs. Kmo Turkish Tallit
Today two types of Turkish tallits are available. The Echt Turkish Tallit is made from Tunisian wool, whose dense weave makes it the heaviest traditional wool tallit found. The Kmo Turkish Tallit employs the same design, pattern and features as authentic Turkish tallits, but uses a somewhat lighter weave of wool; still the Kmo talit remains noticeably heavier than a standard tallit.
Both the Echt and the Kmo feature unique double-knotted fringes along the edges and are sold without an atara, because many Chassidim who opt for the Turkish or Kmo tallit have a special, ornate atara sewn on.
Owing to the fabric, this tallit lasts for many years and therefore includes added features to make sure it retains its look over time.