Luxebook February 2023

India has many undiscovered crafts to its name, many of which date back centuries. The carpet weaving industry, although not a hidden craft, is often one of the most overlooked industries dating back to centuries. Today, it is one of the largest handicraft industries, not just within the country but worldwide. Carpet weaving dates back to the medieval times when the craft borrowed the skill and expertise from Persia, China, and Afghanistan. Back then, the skill was popularised only in villages and small towns across North India. However, the modern carpet weaving industry is flourishing across different states with each having its own rendition of the craft.While Uttar Pradesh prides itself in carpets in bold colours and Persian motifs, Kashmir is known to produce some of the finest silk carpets and rugs, and Rajasthan’s hand-knotted woollen carpets hardly need an introduction. There’s no shortage of carpet companies today. However, only a handful of them have been around for a very long time. And so, to know more about the industry, its scope and evolution over the years, LuxeBook spoke to experts – Angelique Dhama – CEO, Obeetee Carpets Retail, Yogesh Chaudhary – Director, Jaipur Rugs, and Ali Akmal Jan – Managing Partner, Carpet Kingdom. History and origin The history of carpet weaving in India can be traced back to the Mughal reign in the 16th century. Babur who was unhappy about the lack of luxuries available in the country often spoke of the luxuries in Persia, one of them being Persian carpets. And so, wanting to establish the carpet weaving industry in India, Akbar brought some of the finest carpet weavers in Persia with him to India and ordered them to train Indian prisoners in the craft. This led to the establishment of carpet weavings centres in Agra, Delhi and Lahore in 1580 AD which promoted the production of carpets in India. As more artisans trained in carpet weaving, the art began to grow and flourish. It was then modified to fit royal preferences. Although mostly Persian in design, Indian motifs were added to the designs which included scenes from court life, animals, flowers and plants, scenic landscapes and more. Artisans would often use a combination of materials including silk, velvet, wool and even cashmere, using only natural vegetable dyes to add colour. One of the most interesting factors back then was that each carpet had a unique design; one would never find two carpets that share a resemblance of any sort. The royal Mughal courts had some of the most beautiful carpets. Most carpets found in the royal courts were made from pure silk and featured as many as 4224 knots per square inch. Today, India is among the world’s largest producers and exporters of handmade carpets. A reportedly 75–85 per cent of carpets manufactured in India are exported abroad, given the value and demand of the quality and design of handcrafted Indian carpets. Modern Indian carpet weaving industry One of the most labour-intensive industries in the country, the carpet weaving industry is seen to be flourishing most in north India, especially in regions like Kashmir, Jaipur,Agra, and Bhadohi-Mirzapur where handtufted carpets have been popularised. Angelique Dhama, the CEO of Obeetee Carpets shares that although the industry itself is flourishing, the hand-knotted carpet sector might not be doing so well. Obeetee Carpets is among the oldest hand-woven rug companies in the world, founded back in 1920 in the town of Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. Since its inception, Dhama points out A TALE OF KNOTS Tracing the history and evolution of the carpet weaving industry in India BY SCHENELLE DSOUZA Jaipur Rugs WEAVING ART 18|L U X E B O O K|F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 3 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 3 |L U X E B O O K| 19