Indian Carpets -The Legend of Indian Carpets
Indian Carpets are renowned the world over for their exquisite designs, subtle elegance, attractive colours and workmanship. The magnificence of Indian carpet weaving and the intricate patterns that have emerged from it have substantially increased India’s carpet exports and placed it prominently in the international carpet map.
Carpet weaving was brought to India by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. Some of the most exclusive carpets were created during the Mughal reign, each carpet unlike the other but infused with a common magic of colours and design.
The carpet weaver has gradually grown as an artist, a creator who could weave poetry in to his designs and every knot he tied, giving a touch of aesthetic beauty to his creations.
A carpet weaver’s skills are his own and the designs he evolves are from his mind to be translated in to beautiful form with the help of wool and silk.
Colours fascinate. And when they are blended with material and designs, they acquire a radiance that is alive. Indian carpets are renowned for their exotic colours.
At the beginning of the 20th century, nature was the most important source of perfect dyes and subtle and attractive colours.
Madder, which grows almost everywhere, was the most important colourant of vegetable origin. Its root provided the whole range of pinks and reds and with the green from the grass and brown from the kiker tree.
This gave the weaver a wide choice. Nowadays, all types of natural dyes are used.
From the outset, wool has been the basic material for the knotted woollen carpet.
The wool used for the pile has a variety of origins, the use related to the role for which the carpet is being woven.
However silk is commonly used in handknotted silk carpets in Kashmir where the weaver also has access to the wool of the highest quality.
Pattern in a carpet is as much an integral part of the carpet as colouring. The Indian carpet weaver freed carpets from the limitation of space, repeated intricate and infinite patterns in an ordered symmetry and wove abstract symbols into dense ornamentation.
The figurative was combined with the geometric and floral with the arabesque. The usual procedure adopted by the weaver is to draw his designs and transfer them to graph paper on which each square represents a single knot.
Then the paper is divided into varying parts depending on whether the pattern is intended for the centre medallion or for a part os a repeated pattern. these sheets of paper are then passed on to the knotting workshop.
The other manner followed by the weavers of Kashmir and Amritsar is the ‘Talim’ which demands time and experience. A coded colour chart indicates the number of knots to be woven in their respective colours. The master-weaver reads aloud from it and the weavers follows his directions carefully. The colours and number of knots to be woven are indicated by signs.
The master-weaver winds the warp around the loom and begins chanting the ‘Talim’ and the knitters chant their reply after carrying out the instruction.
Weaving the Magic of Creativity
The loom gives shape to the carpet-weaver’s creative expressions.
One of the most commonly used loom in India is the roller-beam loom. The simplest of these looms has two horizontal wooden beans between which the wrap threads are stretched, the one beam in front of the weaver, the other is behind the first. As the knotting proceeds, the carpet is rolled to the back of the loom. The weaver begins by weaving a selvedge and several shoots of weft are passed to form a narrow band to secure the knots at the end of the carpet.
The Indian carpet weaver uses the asymmetrical or Persian knot which is tied with a strand of Yarn around two adjacent warp threads, leaving some threads free at either side for the lateral selvedges. Each knot is separated from its neighbour by a loop that is cut after the next shoot of weft. this knot is also called the ‘two-handed knot’ as it can be executed both from right to left and from left to right. The process is more widespread as it is more rapid.
Washing And Finishing
Washing of a carpet is done to bring sheen and lustre, therefore, it is as important as colouring, designing and weaving. this is the final stage of carpet weaving and hence requires a lot of careful handling.
Before washing, the carpet goes through the stage of burning the back of the carpet, rubbing with wired brush and berai to make it even.
Washing is done with water mixed with soap, bleaching powder and other natural chemicals. After washing, the carpet is kept in the sunlight for drying and then it is sent for clipping.
The final appearance of a carpet comes after clipping and chemical finishing. The art of clipping reflects on the emboss like finish in the final carpet.
Finishing is a meticulous process which requires skillful craftsmanship and is done piece by piece in handknotted carpets.
INDIAN CARPET HISTORY
Since the beginning, wool or silks have been the essential material of the knotted carpets. The wool may have a diversity of origins according to the type of carpet being made. Silk knots are also used in Kashmir region. The patterns of Indian carpets varied from vines and floral patterns, animal and bird figures and geometric and calligraphic patterns. Rugs from Akbar`s reign (1556-1605) used cotton warp and wool pile and a variety of color scheme had multiple shades of blues, greens, and other colors on a red and peach base. The patterns were a reworked copy of Persian style but later modified to Indian tastes.The history of Indian carpets entails that when Babur came to India, he was disappointed by lack ofluxuries here. He missed the luxuries of Persia, which included the Persian carpet and thus Akbar laid the foundation of carpet weaving tradition in India, in 1580 AD at his palace in Agra. With their support he established carpet weavings centers at Agra, Delhi and Lahore to facilitate production of Persian styled carpets, which were inspired by designs of Kirman, Kashan, Esfahan, Heart and so on. Mughals not only used the Persian technique of carpet weaving, but were also influenced by traditional designs and motifs from Persia. Mughal carpets were as obscure as their miniatures and usually depicted court life, animals and floral decorations. Mughal carpets were brightly coloured and the hand knotted silk carpets had 4224 knots per square inch. However, most famous type of Indian carpets was the pile carpet, which came to India in the reign of Akbar in 16th century. In 1580A.D. Akbar brought certain Persian carpet weavers to India and established them in India. The art grew and flourished here and it was modified as per the royal tastes and mixed with the Indian arts. The Persian carpets were thus re-created in Indian forms. These carpets spread to the whole subcontinent with each area having its own specialtiesCarpets and floorings are an integral part of Indian homes and the history of Indian carpets features its development using mats and durries with a variety of material, ranging from wool, cotton, jute, coir, bamboo and grass. History of Indian carpets, especially those of the woolen carpets traces to a period as early as 500 B.C. References to the earliest woven mats and floor coverings can be found in ancient and medieval Indian literature.
Indian carpets during Jahangir`s reign (1605-27) were more superior. Materials like silk and pashmina were used that permitted greater number of knots to be included in the art works. Patterns of these Indian carpets resembled miniature paintings. Subtle gradations and shadings with yarns were themselves artistic. The patterns of these carpets were a reflection of manuscript paintings. The history of Indian Carpets show technically refined taste in both design and construction. The carpets had scrolling vines, flowering plants, and more naturalistic animals in pictorial or overall pattern.
During Shahjahan`s reign (1628-58) the art of Indian carpets had reached new heights. Warps and wefts of fine silk yarns incorporated as many as 2,000 knots per square inch. Silk or pashmina piles gave the carpets a velvety like texture. Yarn shading was as stylish as in Jahangir`s reign. Flowers were still the primary elements of design. During this era, the patterns were primarily floral all over with at times geometric or calligraphic trims. Chinese and European patterns also influenced the history of Indian carpets in their own way. Calligraphy influenced the carpet craft as it did the other crafts in India. Though like all other crafts, carpet making also saw a downfall for sometime, but the craft sustained in the traditional families.
The Indian carpets are considered most technically skillful classical craft. The carpet weavers throughout the history of India have grown artistically and are renowned for their exquisite designs, elegance, attractive colors and workmanship. In 1958 there were 14 factories with 350 looms and 80 cottage units with 400 looms. According to a survey in India, there were about 3500 carpet weavers in 1974. By the end of eighties their total number reached about 48000 people. This remarkable expansion of the carpet industry is mainly due to the programme of massive training introduced and sponsored by the All-India Handicraft Board. Under this programme numerous groups of girls have been trained that started a new development in job market of Kashmir. Another healthy sign of carpet industry`s growth has been its movement from the city of Srinagar to rural and semi-urban areas
Agra is one of the earliest carpet producing centers in India. The weavars here produce Persian, Turkman and Aubussan Varieties of carpets
this belt produces the maximum number of carpets in india. It’s carpets in verious knots and counts are famous for their varied range and designs. This belt specialises in Woollen, Tufted, Tibetan Carpet and Durries. THe carpetproducing areas are spread over 1000sq. Kilometres and comprise of many villages and districts in and around Bhadohi
Besides producing regular Hand-Knotted and Hand-Tufted Carpets in Wool this belt specialises in manufacturing Cotton and Woollen Durries and Kilims.
Jammu & Kashmir
The carpet industry in this belt is well known. Soft back and hard back carpet are high sellers and Jaipur is also known for cotton and Artificial silk durries.
PAnipat is famed for the production of durries, Tufted carpets and a wide range of floor coverings including Shaggy Rugs.
Elluru and Warangal
Importance of Indian Carpets & their Types in the Carpet Markets
Indian Handmade Carpets play an important role in home décor furnishing everywhere around the world. Carpets are with no doubt one of the most important factors that can make a room look improved and attractive. Using carpets can change the entire appearance and impression of a room or living space, instantly. Handmade Carpets provide great warmth and a touch of softness and coziness to the room. Smart use of good handmade carpets can make a dull-room look lively and refresh. That is one of the reason handmade carpets find a special place in the entire home furnishing stores around the world, without any doubt.
Carpet in India
Handmade Carpets were brought to India by the Mughal and carpet sector is one of the oldest sectors in India. As time passed, more people adapted handmade carpet weaving in both the segments and it has slowly developed to a large industry particularly in the northern parts of India and in general in all parts of India. Several historical factors and the availability of raw materials for handmade carpets made a few centers famous for carpet making; Bhadohi-Mirzapur-Varanasi, Agra, Panipat, Jammu and Kashmir, and Jaipur top the list. In the recent decades, we saw emergence of many other carpet manufacturing centers in and around India.
Over the years, Indian Handmade Carpet markets have grown by leaps and bounds; and it has seen the emergence of Mega Carpet Manufacturing Clusters like Agra, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Gopiganj etc centers in Uttar Pradesh, Bikaner-Jaipur belt in Rajasthan; Srinagar, Jammu, Baramullah, Leh belt in Jammu & Kashmir; Panipat & Sonepat belt in Haryana; Gwalior belt in Madhaya Pradesh; Baruch belt in Gujarat; Purri, Cuttack belt in Orissa; Danapur & Madhubani belt in Bihar; Eluru & Warrangal belt in Andhra Pradesh.
India is today a clear leader in the International Handmade Carpet Market. Even after a commanding share in global exports, the country managed to increase its expots consequently for the fifth year in a row.
Key Markets and potential
India exports rugs & carpets to over 73 countries, mainly to USA, Germany, Canada, U.K. Australia, South Africa, France, Italy, Brazil…… and of late to Carpet Manufacturing countries China, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan.
USA with 43.84% share followed by Europe with 31.15% share (Germany, UK, France being leading importers) are traditionally the biggest and established markets for Indian carpets. Europe however, however, seems to be stagnant today, with no sign of revival in demand, forcing exporters to find new markets. Scandinavian countries have an unexplored potential to be tapped. We at CEPC have also identified some thrust countries for this purpose.
Over 75 to 85% of the handmade carpets weaved in India are exported. Indian carpets are renowned for their quality, vibrant colors and fine designs.
According to DGCI&S, in 2014-2015 the total exports of handmade carpets alone stood at 8441.95 Crore in terms of Indian rupee and Million US$ 1380.67 and the exports were made to more than 125 countries all over the world.
Types of carpets made in India
In India, there are seven types of carpets made by different carpet belts across the country. They are as follows.
Floor Rug in VelvetStaple / synthetic carpets
These carpets are made from synthetic fibers, unlike most other types of carpets produced in India. The purposes of these types of carpets are derived from its superior strength when compared to carpets made from natural fibers or yarn. These have various applications in textile industries, military purposes, industrial purposes and horticulture etc. Synthetic carpets are not very good for human health in general.
Pure silk carpets
Made completely from silks, these carpets have allured and captured the imaginations of man from time immemorial. In most carpet belts, manufacturing and weaving silk carpets is a family business where the secrets and techniques are transferred from one generation to the following ones. They are great for home décor furnishing purposes.
GABBE Woolen Carpets
Primarily and largely produced in the Bhadohi-Mirzapur regions of Uttar Pradesh, GABBE Woolen Carpets follow indigenous and unique tradition of various tribal patterns which are very antique and elegant. The unique weaving and coloring techniques make these carpets one of the most sought after and costliest carpets that is available in India as of now. Though exact compositions of the fibers are unknown, they are generally made of 25% cotton and 75% wool.
Tufted woolen carpets
These types of carpets can be made by hand or by machine. Inexpert eyes cannot differentiate among the two. These types of rugs can be made pretty easily making it one of the largely produced and exported carpets in India. The carpets tend to vary in color, designs and the patterns that are used on them, to provide unique and wonderful feel wherever they are used for home décor furnishing. Tufted woolen carpets are also one of the best looking carpets out there.
Hand-made woolen durries
These types of carpets are made from the finest wool making it look better and beautiful. In India, the tradition of making carpets by human hands results in highest quality and superfine feel. These can be made only by the finest carpet weavers in the inlands of India. These carpets are made in special designs and unique patterns according to the requirements of the clients. These can be bought from home furnishing stores in India and are renowned for its premium feel and durability.
Wool Chain Stitch Rugs
These types of rugs are made by loosely twisting the yarn on cotton or linen based materials. Wool Chain Stitch rugs are very famous and they are featured in various museum and exhibits around the world. Rotating from the center, the rows of this type of rugs create solid and stylish patterns making a clear embossed feeling to add different textures.
Hand-knotted woolen carpets
Well-liked for its elegant style and unique craftsmanship, these type of carpets are adored all around the world. There are many carpet manufacturers who offer customized carpets for clients as they require.