The Indian tradition of producing colorful, intricately designed carpets spans centuries. India is known not only for producing beautiful, handmade carpets but also for the pride and respect its artisans have for carrying on the tradition. From generations-old antiques to newly milled product, demand for carpets from India persists today. An intricacy of the design in India is not present in other areas. Indian weaving goes so far back; you’ve got this history of making classic, hand-tied carpets.
The process of hand-weaving today is remarkably similar to the practice brought to India by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. Then as now, weavers swiftly knot carpets by hand with nothing more than a colored pattern to guide their movements. While Indian weaving is revered for its precision, weavers pride themselves on the knowledge that their personality and intuition as artisans permeates each piece.
With Indian carpets the “attraction is more artisanal” than with carpets from other weaving regions. Consider the higher end of the Indian market as really distinguishing itself from other carpet-producing countries, noting the use of vegetable dyes, natural materials such as wool and silk and “a wonderful use of the abrash” as characteristics that set these pieces apart.
Adding further to the character of each individual carpet is the practice of hand washing, a step producers believe to be of equal importance to color and design. Once the weaving is complete, a carpet is washed by hand and left to dry in the sun. The process adds a distinctive, aged appearance to the carpets that simply cannot be recreated through alternative methods.
India is known for a variety of styles that have evolved over time from region to region. Common Indian styles include pure silk carpets, most hailing from Kashmir; Agra carpets, typically bearing Persian-influenced patterns; and Gabbeh carpets, which depict tribal motifs and are woven primarily in the Bhadohi-Mizrapur region. Bhadohi, Mizrapur, Agra and Jaipur are also known for their flatwoven dhurries. In making flatweave rugs, the yarns that would otherwise make up the pile of a carpet are instead woven into its backing creating a flat pattern that is often reversible.
“The antique rugs out of India are just beautiful and are very expensive treasure, in particular, the antique dhurries and Agras make “a beautiful statement”.
Today, India’s talent goes beyond hand-knotted product to include hand-tufted rugs, made by a tufting gun the weaver uses to follow a pattern printed on the carpet backing.
That dedication to craft and to the history of quality Indian carpets keeps India in the spotlight as a premiere producing region. Further, the continued popularity of designs from the region’s past points to a positive future for pieces being woven today. They are really artifacts, they are the antiques of tomorrow.”