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.