The Indian Carpet Industry
India, like many other countries, has always used wool as the basic material of the carpet. Other materials commonly used are silk and cotton. Silk carpets are particularly high quality pieces.
In the beginning of the carpet making century, only natural dyes were used to color the wool. Madder, as well as other wild vegetables, was the most important element of this dying process. "Other natural elements used to make dyes are tumeric root (light yellow), pomegranate skins (darker yellow), rhubarb (dark red and copper red), grass or "kusa (green), and kikar tree leaves (brown). These natural dyes were usually prepared in the carpet maker's own home" (Ruedin 1984).
Presently, India and most other countries producing rugs, generally use synthetic dyes (Ruedin 1984). These synthetic dyes come from manufacturers or professional dyers. This is very unfortunate. It is impossible to create carpets that emulate those of yesterday, with the use of synthetic dyes.
Patterns to these knotted Indian carpets are essentially the most important aspect of the carpet itself. For 2,500 years the only patterns that were used were floral, arabesques and rhomboids and animal patterns. Although these patterns are still present today, we do see elements of western influence in some designs. However, what seems to be the pattern to follow in India is the traditional Oriental style (Ruedin 1984).
India's carpet industry, unlike the past is like any other industry trying to make it in the marketplace. As a result, India has adopted many popular designs that may not be indigenous to India, such as the Chinese patterns as well as Persian designs.
"Indian carpet makers have adapted the talim, (a roll of paper marked with a code indicating the number of knots to be woven in their respective colors), as their way to make their products" (Ruedin 1984). The master weaver will read the colors of the talim outloud and the carpet knotters will follow his directions. The talim is made up of the following colors: green, white, pink, yellow and garnet. The number of knots to be woven is then indicated by the sign next to the color (Ruedin 1984).
Most Indian carpets are unique to the region from which they come from. The five major carpet producing regions in India are: Kashmir, The Punjab, Agra, Jaipir and the region of Benares (Black 1985).
It is very common for Mughal (time period of Indian carpet making), carpets to use animal or jungle patterns. Artists would take their subjects from Mughal miniatures. Alongside real animals are beasts drawn from the Mughal mythology. It was common for these artists to integrate animals and people by using human heads with animal bodies and vise versa (Black 1985).
Their were certain animals that had great significance and were made to be a part of some of the Indian designs. The elephant, which was considered a very strong animal used in many types of work, was an animal used in the designs of certain carpets. Other animals with great significance were horses, serpents, eagles and rabbits (Black 1985).
Flowers and birds are the most popular of all Indian carpet designs. The people of India, as well as people from other countries, will always admire the charm and exotic coloring of the beautiful floral and bird patterns. This all began in the 1620's when a passion for these flower designs overtook the Mughal court. This is said to have been brought on by a visit from Jahangir to the region of Kashmir. Jahangir had an enormous love for nature. An artist that was visiting with him painted over a hundred flower patterns to make the emperor happy. This style caught on with the people and later became the most popular design of Indian carpets (Black 1985).
Kashmir, was the region that produced many carpets with portraits of important Indian...