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Indian Crafts >> Carpets
Carpets
Indian Crafts - Carpets
History of Carpets

The carpet making in this belt has emerged as a skilled craft only about two decades ago. Influenced by the carpet making tradition of the Tibetans, the small carpets produced in this area are the cheaper alternate for the carpets manufactured elsewhere in central and eastern UP using Persian and Turkish knots. The carpet weaving craft is practised by Bhutia, the semi-nomadic and shepherds who live in northern high attitude of this district along the Tibet border. Due to spread of education many people have shifted to other jobs among Bhutiyas. However currently, many women from other communities have taken to carpet weaving thus expanding carpet trading.

Carpet making in India is at least four centuries old. Its origin can be traced back to the early days of Mughal rulers who had brought artisans from Iran, which was famous for carpet manufacturing.Agra is an important carpet manufacturing centre, and its origin can be traced back to the early days of Mughal rule like that of the carpet belt of Bhadohi-irzapur. For beginning this craft in Agra, the Mughal rulers brought artisans from Iran. Under oyal patronage, they made beautiful carpets with aesthetically perfect designs and colours. he ancient craft is still practiced in Agra with the same enthusiasm and artistic perfection.

Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh entered the carpet world in the early part of this century and built up its fame around the traditional designs but is now producing both old and new designs.

Carpet weaving in Kashmir was not originally indigenous but is thought to have come from Persia. Till to day, most designs are distinctly Persian with local variations. One example, however, of a typically Kashmiri design is the tree of life. Persian design notwithstanding, any carpet woven in Kashmir is referred to as Kashmiri. Kashmiri carpets are more subtle and muted than else where in the country, only chemical dyes are used, vegetable dyes have not been available now for a hundred years.

The origin of carpet weaving in Bihar is very ancient and can be traced back to the Buddhist and Mauryan times. The pile carpet, however, began to be manufactured only after the industry was established and encouraged by the Mughals and began to spread to all parts of the country.It is claimed that during the reign of Sher Shah, a nawab by the name of Dandi came to this region bringing with him some pile carpet weavers. These carpets were patronised by the rulers, maharajas, rajas, nawabs, jagirdars and all classes of aristocracy and naturally the industry grew and flourished.

When we refer to the carpet it is the woollen pile carpet, which began to be produced in this country in the 16th century. Though its origin may have been Persian, once the Indian weavers picked up the craft, they made it their own. Thus a new Indian tradition in carpets grew up. But as royal patronage played a dominant role in its evolution, it reflected largely the tastes of its patrons. As a result of their preoccupation with gardens, flowers, fruits, hunting, such themes naturally found their way into the weaves. As life grew more sophisticated, the pictorial representation, became more stylized, and the formalism and high decoration of the Persian product was replaced by the realism of the Indian.

Carpets and blankets are synonymous with Himahchali furnishings. The art of manufacture of carpets was introduced into India by the Saracens as they did into Europe. It is believed that India learnt the art of weaving from Persia. In the higher reaches of the state, hill folk rear sheep and goats and weave the wool and hair into traditional blankets rugs and namdas.

Carpet making in India is at least four centuries old. Its origin can be traced back to the early days of mughal rulers who had brought artisans from Iran. Normally when we refer to the carpet it is the woolen pile carpet, which began to be produced in this country in 16th century. Though its origin may have been Persian, once the Indian weavers picked up the craft, they made it their own. Thus a new Indian tradition in carpets grew up. Royal patronage played a dominant role in its evolution. They weave gardens, flowers, fruits, hunting etc on the carpets. As life grew more sophisticated, the pictorial representation became more stylished and the formalism and high decoration of the Persian product was replaced by the realism of India.

Craft making in India is at least four centuries old. Though its origin may have been Persian, once the Indian weavers picked up the craft, they made it their own. Thus a new tradition in carpets grew up. Royal patronage played a dominant role in its evolution. The artisans weaved gardens, flowers, fruits, hunting etc. on the carpets. As life grew more sophisticated, the pictorial representation became more stylished. And the formalism and high decoration of the Persian products was replaced by the realism of the India. Sohbar is the only centre in Meghalaya where carpet weaving is carried on.

The carpet making has emerged as a skilled craft only about two decades ago. Influenced by the carpet making tradition of the Tibetans, the small carpets produced in this area are the cheaper alternatives . The carpet weaving craft is practised by Bhutia, the semi-nomadic and shepherds who live in northern high altitude of this district along the Tibet border. Due to spread of education many people have shifted to other jobs . However currently, many women from other communities have taken to carpet weaving thus expending carpet trading.
Fine Art
Generally traditional and strong influence of Tibetan Art is seen in the designs prevalent in UP hills. The images of the Hindu gods and deities, natural scenarios of the hills etc. are also included.

High quality carpets mostly in 3 varieties Persian (Isfahan and Kashan), Turkoman and Aubusson (French) are currently manufactured in Agra. Designs in thePersian Isfahan variety are long leaf and floral.Persian Kashan variety is small withfloral arrangement are common. In the Persian designs, seven to eleven shades are generally used. The Turkoman has only the Mohru Bukhara variety. The French Aubussan accounts for more than half the carpets manufactured in Agra. They generally have wine-red, green or cream colours for the round, with large floral designs in the centre and smaller repetitions of the centralmotif in the orners. The pile is given an embossed effect by clipping away wool around the patterns, aking them appear to stand out. All these carpets are woven with the Persian sonnech not. They have cotton warp and weft.

The method of weaving,the decorative motifs and colour schemes complement each other. The patternsare mainly, geometrical, using blocks of colour to build them up.

The design cover a wide range from medallions and vases to hunting and animals scenes. The popular ones are the scenic or pictorial with finely drawn scrolling stems, leaves, giant flower heads, flowering trees. The exquisite trellis designs, the elegant hallmark of the Moghal tradition, are divided up into quarter foils and stars, each with a blossoming plant, or with large blossoms at the intersections. The medallions are especially done on borders. Integrated designs are wrought with combinations of little cartouches and attractive palmettos, while rosettes are caught by pendulous raceme leaves or isolated flowering plants in rows. Series of repeats of few designs are used in large carpets.

Obra in Bihar has a really hoary tradition in carpet weaving, going back to the Buddhist and the Mauryan era, when high class floor coverings used to be woven here. It produces the old designs based on the Indo-Persian style, and floral and geometrical patterns.

Generally traditional and strong influence of Tibetan & Persian Art is seen in the designs. The images of Hindus gods and deities, natural scenarior of the hills and geometrical motifs etc. are also included.

Himachali carpets are brilliant in colours and traditional motifs. You ll be spell bound by their appearance Garudas (Vishnus mount, the eagle), perched on flowering threes, dragows, swastikas, auspicious Hindu, Buddhist emblem, flutes symbolizing happiness and lotus blooms signifying purity.

The Bhutias are the traditional weavers who make small bedside carpets (duns) and asans. The old alpana designs drawn on the floor on festive occasion are used. The geometrical pattern with floral motifs, like the two mythical Tibetan birds called the Dak and the jira, the dragon, the lion and the god of lighting- the zip zag lines.

The geometric motifs representing birds, flowers, catpaws, mountains, stems, leaves and stars are woven by introducing dyes yarn as weft at intervals dictated by the design.

Generally traditional and strong influence of Tibetan art is seen in the designs. The images of the Hindu gods and deities, natural scenaries of the hills are also included.
Procedure
As the warp remains inside the carpet, usually the weft yarn is dyed. The vertical loom consisting of four beams set upright against the wall, with the weaver sitting in front of it is deployed for carpet making. The conceived designs are drawn on graph paper with each square representing single knot. Tibetan knots are prevalently used for knotting. As each pile knot is made, the wool is cut off with a sharp hooked knife, which is kept hanging from the right wrist. As each row of knots is completed, a weft thread is passed through the warp, running it alternately over and above the threads of the latter. These are pressed against the completed row of knots with a blunt comb-like device called kanghi. Trimmings are done on loom. When taken off the loom, the ends of the warp are knotted in pairs. The carpet is finally well brushed. After the carpet has been knotted, it is trimmed or sheared to create a pile of uniform length. The exposed warp ends cut from the warp beams are cut short, left free, or woven and tied in various ways to form a fringe.

Warp (longitudinal thread) generally of wool and silk forms the base upon which the carpet is knotted. This is wound around the two beams of the loom. The fineness of the weave is determined by the number of warp threads. Weft may be of wool, silk or cotton which passes horizontally in and out of the warp threads by means of a heddle rod and shed stick. Heddle rod is attached to alternate warp threads by means of loops and its raising and lowering creates a shed for the weft threads to pass across. Shed stick separates alternate warp threads, to provide counter shed.Weft provides support for the knots, which are made by tying a yarn of wool or silk around two warp threads. Persian knotting is prevalent in Agra. Knotting and cutting with a hooked knife is done simultaneously. Knotting is generally done by women and small children as their small fingers can move easily between the narrowly spaced warp threads. After completing a row of knots, one or two weft threads are passed in and out of the warps, and then the carpet is beaten down by a heavy metal comb called panja. Generally the master weaver alone follows the design and keeps calling out to rest of the weavers the colours to be used for each knot. This system generally known as pher bolana or calling out is prevalent in Agra.

The loom has two vertical wooden beams, which is fixed with pegs at the top and bottom. While the two horizontal beams carry the warp threads of cotton tied to each other. The knotting is done by looping the thread around the warp and the rod, which is used at the time of looping. When a motif or other colours have to be introduced, the ground colour is cut and a new thread is inserted by twisting into a single warp thread & looping. After this, a three ply twisted wool is thrown across twice to be used as a weft.

Kashmiri carpets are world renowned for two things- they are hand made, never machine made. And they are always knotted, never tuffed. The weft threads are passed through, the talim or design and colour specification are then worked out.A strand of yarn is looped through the warp and weft, knotted and then cut. The yarn used normally is silk, wool or silk and wool. Woollen carpets always have a cotton base (warp & weft)and silk also has a cotton base. The talim consists of the line of numericals starting with a circle which connotes the stitch and is continued to indicate the number of knots to be woven. Along with it is the colour card which carries actually dyed pieces of thread to indicate the colours to be used as well as the different symbols for them. Over each talim a circle or sign will be marked to symbolise a specific colour. Thus the talim and the shade card have to go together for the weaving operation. The talim when ready is tucked into the warp threads and one weave calls out the talim i.e. the different colour in which the knots are to be tied.

The loom is upright with moveable horizontal timbers. The weaving is sometimes described as the enrichment of web. The warps run vertically and wefts horizontally. Short bits of woollen yarn are knotted about two adjacent warp cords in such a manner that their two ends hang out upon the upper surface of the web. The work starts at the bottom and moves upward. As the knotting is completed that portion is rolled up around the weavers lower cross-beam. After each row of knots, cotton yarn which forms the weft is passed through and acts as a binder. The yarn used in each knot has to have sufficient length to be able to hold the warp together and therefore it becomes necessary to clip the pile if the fine details of the pattern are to come into clear focus. The finer the design, the closer the shearing. The ends are finished with a kind of tapestry weave, khilim weave as it is called, to prevent the knots from slipping loose, while the outer warps at the sides are reinforced with overcasting. Finally the end fringes made up from the free ends of the warp cords are plaited after the carpet has been detached from the cross beams.

The carpet weaver ties his knots with great skill and dexterity on upright wooden looms. The warp is mounted on upper beam and the woven fabrics is wound to lower beam. The looms are generally located in a trench so that a very high ceiling is not necessary. The tools used is a curved steel knives for cutting the threads after the knot has been tied, or comb made of iron called as panja, and scissors for cutting the pile level. The design to be woven is generally prepared by a designer from a graph. Generally, three to five weavers work in a loom, depending on the size of the carpet.

Weaver follows pattern and colours from a design hanging infront of him. A knot is made over the foundation threads and the wool is cut off with a knife kept hanging from his right wrist passes a weft through the warp, running it alternately over and below the warp threads, and presses the thread against the row of knots with a blunt comb-like instrument called the kanghi sometimes for added strength, the knots many be further stitched to the warp threads. After a number of rows have been made, the wool is cropped with a pair of curved scissors but is not cut to the final length at this stage, as this is a step in the process of carried out by another expert who uses a broad and very sharp knife for the purpose. When the whole carpet has been knotted and cropped, it is taken off the loom and warp threads cut about four to eight inches from the ends of the carpet. These threads are knotted in pairs so that the knots press against the weft threads which is serve to bind the rows of tufts. Finally it is brushed carefully to remove the remnants of wool clippings and is ready for the market.

The patterns are mainly geometrical, using blocks of colour to build them up. The loom has two vertical wooden beams with fixed pegs at the top and bottom while two horizontal beams carry the warp threads of cotton tied to each other. The knotting is done by looping the thread around the wrap. The rod that is used for looping is placed horizontally and at right angles to the warp. The ground colour is cut and a new thread inserted by twisting into a single warp thread & looping at the time of introducing motif and other colours. Then a three ply twisted wool is thrown across twice to be used as weft. The weaving is done generally by women.

Carpet weaving is done shuttle - pattern looms. The weft of handspun wool in various shades being used to give a multicoloured effect to the finished product.

As the warp remains inside the carpet, usually the weft yarn is dyed. The vertical loom consisting of four beams set upright against the wall with the weaver setting in front of it is deployed for carpet making. The conceived designs are drawn on graph paper with each square representing single knot. Tibetan knots are prevalently used for knotting. As each pile knot is made, the wool is cut off with a sharp hooked knife, which is kept hanging from the sight wrist. As each row of knots is completed, a weft thread is passed through of the warp, running it alternately over and above the threads of the latter. These are pressed against the completed row of knots with a blunt comb-like device called kanghi. Trimmings are done on loom. When taken off the loom, the ends of the warp are knotted in pairs. The carpet is finally in pairs. The carpet is finally well brushed. After the carpet has been knotted, it is trimmed or sheared to create a pile of uniform length. The exposed warp beams are tied in various ways to form a fringe.
Resources
Basic Material : warp-cotton/hemp; weft- wool/silk/cotton/jute/hemp, local raw wool, woollen and cotton yarns
Colouring Material : Indigo, madder, lac (natural dyes), acid, hrome mordant dyes (synthetic dyes), cartoon (design).

Basic Material : Handspun woollen yarn from New Zealand sheep wool, Bikaneri wool.
Colouring Material : Natural dyes, Synthetic dyes, Acid dyes, chrome dyes.

Basic Material : Thread, cotton warp, rod, three ply twisted wool
Colouring Material : Color, natural dyes, synthetic dyes

Basic Material : Colours, threads, yarn, silk, wool, frame, warp, weft.

Basic Material : Woollen yarn, wool, kangi, warp threads, a pair of scissors, sharp knife, natural dyes

Basic Material : Warp-cotton/hemp; weft-wool / jute, local raw wool, woollen and cotton yarn, curved steel knife, panja, a pair of scissor, brush, colour for dyeing yarn, dyes - synthetic / natural

Basic Material : Different kinds of wool, colours, kanghi, scissor, knife

Basic Material : warp threads of cotton, three ply twisted wool

Basic Material : Handspun yarn, shuttle pattern loom, scrapper, knife, natural dyes, synthetic dyes.

Basic Material : Kangi (beater), kanghi (comb) scrapper, knife, scissors, brush, colour for dyeing yarn, vertical loom, dyes - synthetic/natural.
Equipments
Kanghi (beater), scrapper, knife, kanghi (comb)

Vertical loom, Panja

Vertical loom









Loom, vertical wooden beams, rod, blocks of colour, Vegetable dyes, chemical dyes, synthetic dyes



Artifacts
Wall hangings (2 X 4), (2 X 3), carpets

Single weft and Double weft carpets.

Carpets

kalin, carpet of various sizes such as 18x18, 18x20, 20x20, 20x22 or 22x22

Carpets, asans, durries

Carpet, wall hanging 2 x 4, 2 x 3

carpets of wool

carpet 3x6 , small bed side carpet, durries, asans

Carpets

woolen carpets

Indian Crafts : History of Carpets