The Indian carpet industry is the true expression of the worker's philosophy and their insight in to the nature. They express nature's changing moods in the form of designs on carpets. The designs, composition, color, size, finish, methods have been influenced by the incidents in Indian history, culture, myths, life style, and geographical conditions prevailing in the country.
History of Indian Carpets
Indian carpet industry does not originated as a part of tradition, but as an act of importation by Mughal emperors. It is believed that the first Mughal emperor Babur (1526-30) imported carpets from Turkey and Persia to enhance the ambience of his court. But, later imperial workshops for carpet production were actually set up by Akbar in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. With the ruin of Mughal Empire, Indian handicrafts faced a set back. During 19th century local carpet workshops were governed and directed by English or European companies.
In the post-British period such indigenous industries started flourishing in different parts of the country. Each region engaged in making different types of carpets with variations in material (silk, wool, etc.), designs, color and quality. On the basis of quality of wool used in the production, the feel of carpets differs. Northern region carpets are soft and shiny - while those of southern region are rough and opaque. The leading carpet manufacturing workshops are located in Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab, Utttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
Carpet Industry in Kashmir
Kashmir is famous for its fine quality hand knotted carpets, which are expensive and considered as lifelong investment. An average piece is made with about 324 knots per square inch. Persian culture influenced the Kashmiri carpet for quite a long time, but gradually the Kashmiri Carpet industry has acquired an indigenous character. Kashmir has developed some of its own designs based on, the traditional paisley, shawl patterns, leaves and flowers. In Kashmir, Talim method is used to train craftsmen.
Wool is the basic material used. Silk is also commonly used not only for the pile but also for the warp and weft. The number of knots on the back of the carpet indicates the quality. Bokhara hand knotted carpets are one of the finest with about 120-500 knots in a square inch.
The deep pile of Indian hand knotted carpets comes in magnificent colors, with designs which are oriental, exotic and uniquely modern.
Namdhas: The namdha is a specialty of Kashmir; these carpets are embroidered with woolen thread that completely covers the base of Hessian. A namdha is prepared by spreading wool with certain quantities of cotton evenly either on mats, as in Kashmir, or on sackcloth, as in Rajasthan. This is moistened with a special solution, which is pressed either by tramping upon it or by applying pressure by hand. Namdhas are either embroidered or appliqued.
In Kashmir this trade is passed from one generation to the next. During cold winter when tourism business ends, they market it personally by approaching urban cities like Delhi on a door to door basis.
Carpet Industry in Rajasthan
Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, is also famous for luxurious carpets. The designs are beautiful, with geometrical patterns generally in black on a maroon background.
Agra is the traditional center of carpet weaving from the period of Mughals. Agra is specialized in the use of silk mixed with woolen yarn. Designs resembles to that of Persian style.
The weavers of the Mirzapur-Badohi region are renowned for their versatility by weaving carpets of practically any design, including the Old Persian ones that are in great demand.
Carpet Industry in Andhra Pradesh
Masulipatnam, Elluru and Warangle are the prominent centers for carpet manufacturing in Andhra Pradesh. In Masulipatnam, patterns used are named after the fruits and flowers like babul, guava, ambarcha etc. Also the main designs called by the name of famous patrons for example Nurjaha, Farasi, Shah Navaz. More often, combination of blue and green with soft yellow and pastel shades is used.
The carpets of Elluru and Warangal are the pride of Andhra Pradesh and have a strong local flavor. The carpet weaving at warangal is done on a large scale because of ease to access cotton. Handspun wool and jute thread are used. The design are again here of Indo-Persian origin. Images are in deep green and orange colors while off-white background is used.
Carpet Industry in Himachal Pradesh
Sheep and goat rearing is a very common occupation of many villagers in Himachal Pradesh who are also engaged in blanket weaving texturing. Carpets in Himachal have magnificent designs and durable texture. Mainly carpets of these areas are made in pure wool and for dhurries cotton is used.
Many Tibetan craftsmen are engaged in weaving woolen carpets, as a result motifs are influenced by Tibetan tradition and culture. Designs of birds, dragon, lion and swastika are popular. Threads of ground color are used.
Indian Carpets are famous the world over. With its magnificent designs and the heart winning workmanship it has been able to capture the export market and to make mark in the global carpet market. India has made remarkable progress in export market. Handmade Woolen Carpets, Tufted Woolen Carpets, Chain stitch Rugs, Pure Silk Carpets, Staple/Synthetic Carpets, Handmade Woolen Dhurries, are some of the types for which there is a huge market demand in the European and American market.
India with a geographical and cultural diversity possesses varieties of carpet manufactured across the country. Carpets from Jammu & Kashmir have great demand in European markets. The Indian carpet industry is a vibrant and has considerable potential for growth. However due to lesser innovation techniques, outdated technology, labor law problems and lack of infrastructural facilities in some of the rural areas, are the major hurdles which makes Indian carpet industry less competent as compared to other carpet supplying countries. But now the government has taken active measures to get rid of these shortcomings and produce good quality carpets. Government has established, Carpet Export Promotion Council Of India (CEPC) to promote the exports of hand knotted carpets and other floor coverings. It provides the necessary assistance to the Indian exporters, identifies the markets, provides financial and marketing assistance, sponsors participation in fairs and exhibitions and also conducts publicity abroad.