Indian (India) Rugs
India offers a wide range of floor coverings that have evolved over the
centuries to suit a variety of tastes, climates and budgets. The woolen and
are more renowned compared to the other materials such as cotton
and several vegetable fibers, which are used for making attractive and
practically useful mats and durries. In the early stages, the motifs used in the
were purely Persian. Later, various other designs were introduced
from Afghanistan, Turkey, China, Morocco and France. Gradually, the pile carpet
industry was Indianised and assumed a character of its own. Each region
developed a distinct style of carpet weaving.
In the mountainous regions of India, from Ladakh through Darjeeling in West
Bengal and Sikkim to Manipur, carpets are made of pure wool in glowing colors.
The predominant motifs are those of the dragon, snow-lion and lotus. Patterns
are also taken from Buddhist iconography with dhawaja (flag), the kalash
(water-vessel) and the twin fish being favorites. Carpets from these regions
are based on techniques that are as distinct as the motifs. These are
essentially Central Asian in tradition. For over 2500 years the patterns
reproduced were those of flowers arabesques and rhomboids with an occasional
animal design. The patterns have never become outmoded. Some motifs have a
profound meaning: the circle signifies eternity, the zigzag water and light, the
swastika darkness and the tree happiness and goodness.
The origins of hand-knotted carpets can be traced back more than 2000 years.
In India, the hand knotted carpets appeared in the 15th century. In Kashmir it
attained a high degree of perfection especially in the 16th and 17th centuries
under the Mughal emperors. Wool is the basic material but in Kashmir silk is
also commonly used not only for the pile but also for the warp and weft.
Sometimes silk or cotton is used for the warp with quality wool pile for weft.
The appearance and number of knots on the back of the carpet indicates the
quality. Among the hand knotted ones the Bokhara Carpets are one of the finest
with about 125-500 knots in a square inch.
Every winter, Kashmiri carpet vendors with small carpets piled high behind their
scooters or motorcycles (the wealthier ones have cars and, consequently, bigger
carpets) are a common sight in Delhi and other big cities in northern India.
Since they have no shops in these cities- being temporary residents while the
cold winter puts an end to tourism and business in Kashmir -they go from house
to house in the hope of finding customers. These vendors often agree to clean
old carpets, but of course it is usually only a known person who may be trusted.
They are often on the look out for old carpets and many an interesting bargain
can be struck, an old for a new. Only the shrewd Kashmiri knows how he can make
a profit from the old one.