Kashmir’s antique carpet industry struggles to survive
The Kashmiri carpet industry has been famous for centuries. In the 15th century, weavers from Persia and Central Asia traveled to Kashmir and ushered in the rise of the carpet industry.
Kashmiri rugs and carpets are handmade, hand-knotted and created from pure wool, pure silk or a mixture of wool and silk. They are available in a wide range of colors, designs and sizes.
Manufactured mainly in areas near Srinagar and villages in rural Kashmir, these rugs and carpets are made to order and are available in a range of sizes (3’x2′, 4’x2’6″, 5’x3′, 6’x4′, 7’x5′, 10’x8′, 12’x9′, 14’x10′, 15’x12′ and 18’x12′).
A team from Brighter Kashmir recently visited Ghulam Hussain Wani carpet weaving establishment in Hassanabad Rainawari area of Srinagar to see how these exquisitely designed rugs and carpets are made or restored to their original form after years of wear.
“I have been working with carpets for a long time, you could say from my childhood until now. It’s been like that for 30 years. They are available in many shapes, sizes and designs. Some are of the traditional and antique variety, some are machine-made, and some are second-hand rugs from Persia and Afghanistan. If they are damaged or need to be repaired, my colleagues and I are qualified enough to do so and will continue to do so. People from all walks of life come here to buy antique and machine-made rugs, or to repair them. I can also be reached on my mobile number: 9796992303,” Wani told Brighter Kashmir.
Wani, however, lamented that the prevailing situation in Kashmir is not conducive to the carpet industry or people connected with it.
“The prevailing situation in Kashmir is far from comfortable and this is having a debilitating impact on our carpet industry, even to the point of making this trade disappear. Most rugs these days are made on machines. We specialize in repairing carpets that have been burned or damaged by fire from radiators, or Kangris (heated earthen pots enclosed in wicker baskets), or hot water that has poured onto them from the baths. We are capable of restoring any type of carpet or rug from any part of the world to its original condition,” added Wani.
The Brighter Kashmir team also visited the area where the men and women skillfully scraped the worn parts of the carpets with special tools and restored them to their bright shapes and jewel tones with intricate oriental and floral designs on different types. weaving looms.
Looms come in horizontal and vertical shapes and usually consist of a frame of two to four beams that hold the warp used to stretch the yarn for rugs. The simplest of the looms consists of two wooden beams fixed to the ground.
Rural people mostly use horizontally shaped looms for carpet weaving because they are simple to operate and can be moved easily from one place to another.
On the other hand, the frame of a vertical loom is shaped from the ground up. Its construction is almost similar to the horizontal loom, except that there is a beam on each side, one near the ground and one above. In both trades, the size of the carpet is limited to these dimensions. Rugs woven in this way are more accurate in their measurements than others.
Usually, these crafts are used in villages and in workshops.
The Brighter Kashmir team also saw a craftswoman using tools to restore a rug. These included reeds, usually made of wood or metal, and used to wrap knots together and to weave and tie cross threads in each row of the rug. The combs are beaten up and down the warp in order to secure and tie the knots tightly; metal scissors to cut the pile of each mat after one or more rows have been attached; knife with a hook to adjust the yarn threads and also to cut the unused thread afterwards; a spindle and a trundle for spinning wool or silk with precision by hand; a brush with small metal tips attached to soft bedding to brush wool and threads when repairing or making a carpet and finally a design plate, which guides the craftsman both for coloring and for drawing the carpet. These design plates are also called “Talim”.
Legend has it that Ghiyas-ud-din Zain-ul-Abidin (1395-1470), the eighth Sultan of Kashmir, brought carpet weavers from Persia and Central Asia to train the local artisans of Kashmir. Today these rugs, ranging from 200 knots to 900 knots per square inch, and made of wool and silk yarns, are ranked among the best in the world and are world famous for their unique and antique designs.
Crafted from premium yarns, these rugs are renowned for their luxurious quality and intricate designs, and attract wealthy customers and connoisseurs from around the world due to their exceptional craftsmanship.
Kashmiri folklore holds that a home is incomplete without a beautiful Kashmiri-made rug or rug. Kashmir is not the only place in India where rugs are made, but the indigenous brilliance of local artisans has made Kashmir rugs one of the most sought after works of art in the world.