Carpet and flooring tradition of India

 

 

History and sources

Carpets and floorings are an integral part of Indian homes. Carpets are generally made from wool and silk. However floorings like mats and durries are made up of a variety of material, ranging from wool, cotton, jute, coir, bamboo and grass.

One can trace the origins of carpet weaving tradition in India to the Mughal dynasty. It is said that when Babur came to India, he was disappointed by lack of luxuries here. He missed the luxuries of Persia, which included the Persian carpet. Akbar laid the foundation of carpet weaving tradition in India, in 1580 AD, when he brought some carpet weavers from Persia, at his palace in Agra. With their support he established carpet weavings centers at Agra, Delhi and Lahore to facilitate production of Persian styled carpets, which were inspired by designs of Kirman, Kashan, Isfahan, Herat, etc.

Mughals not only used the Persian technique of carpet weaving, but were also influenced by traditional designs and motifs from Persia. Mughal carpets were as intricate as their miniatures and often depicted court life, animals and floral decorations.

Mughal carpets were brightly coloured and the hand knotted silk carpets had 4224 knots per square inch.

Traditions

The contemporary carpet weaving tradition in India has been influenced by the carpet tradition of the Mughals. The present day craft of carpet weaving can be divided into two main groups: woolen and non-woolen carpets.

Bhadohi- Mirzapur belt in Uttar Pradesh is the leading woolen carpet-producing center in the country. Tufted woolen carpets are gaining popularity these days. Gabbe woolen carpets, chain stitch rugs and carpets, and namdas are also made in India.

Different states have their own carpet weaving traditions. The finest silk carpets in India come from Kashmir.

The discussion on Indian floorings is not complete without the mention of durries and mats. Durries are traditional Indian flooring and a cheap alternate to carpets. Durries come in a variety of designs and styles. Durrie weaving is common to many states.

Mats are made out of a variety of natural material like, bamboo, grass, jute, coir etc. India has a varied mat making tradition. Bihar, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala , West Bengal and Norheastern states all have distinct mat weaving traditions of their own.

The present day Indian carpet and flooring traditions are not only the continuation of our rich past but they have moulded themselves to suit the needs and aspirations of the modern era. Not only there is great demand for Indian carpets and floorings in the local markets but their demand is also increasing in foreign markets.

The carpet making industry has made great strides in the field of exports. The total exports of the carpet industry (which includes woolen, silk, synthetic carpets and cotton durries) were Rs1357.90 crores in 1994-95. This industry reached a peak of Rs 2151.86 crores in 1997-98. The exports of Indian carpets stood at Rs 1423.41 crores at the turn of the new century.

Traditional Indian carpets and floorings offer a variety of shapes, sizes and designs to choose from. Each carpet and flooring has its own individuality, which is influenced by local traditions.