The art of carpet weaving in Kashmir is passed from one generation to another and most of these traditional weavers prefer to hand weave the carpets. The process of Kashmiri carpet making is quite laborious for it involves a lot of time and different steps starting right from the cultivation of silk or wool, treating and dyeing, deciding the pattern, weaving, and then adding the final touches.
KASHMIRI CARPET INDUSTRY
In India, carpet weaving was first introduced in Kashmir in the late 15th century by King Badshah. He brought artisans from Persia to train the people in Kashmir to spin and weave carpet.
Karkhana’s (factories) were soon started by the king who led to a flourishing industry in the field of carpet weaving in the valley of Kashmir. The Kashmiri carpet is famous not only in India but across the globe.
The Kashmir carpet is known for its specialty of being handmade. It was during the mid 18th century that Mughal carpets from Kashmir were displayed at the crystal palace exhibition in London and was very much appreciated by the Europeans. Slowly Kashmiris started to cater according to the need of western culture.
The world recession in 1902 and the partition of India affected the market for the carpets. In the late 20th century the local manufactures took steps in re-establishing this industry. The initial carpet weaving was only the men’s domain; soon official agencies took steps to encourage this amongst women which led to positive development.
The making of Kashmiri carpet is pure art and its quality. It usually depends on the number of the knots. It is usually handmade and hand-knotted and is made of pure wool or pure silk. The silk carpet is usually woven with mulberry silk. a carpet with 600-900 knots per square inch ranks as a very high-quality carpet and is also very durable. It takes at least 8-10 months for the weaving of an intricate and a good quality carpet. The Kashmiri carpet is priced high because of the work and time that it involves. They weave carpets of different designs and different sizes like 2*3, 3*5, 4*6, etc.
These carpets are also used as wall hangings. Each carpet is designed with a symbolic meaning where the tree of life is the most common design used. These designs also influence the tradition and the culture of a particular area.
Different soft colors are also used in the manufacture where sky blue denotes Persian national color, green is a religious color of Muslims often used in prayer rugs, red represents good virtues like joy and cheerfulness, indigo blue represents solitude, and black color is generally avoided.
Nakaash is the person who designs the carpet, a kalimba is a weaver and the ranger is the person who dyes the carpet in the local Kashmiri language.
In the making of the carpet, the weavers follow the talim chart which is a code color chart. This chart indicates the number of knots which has to be woven according to the planned colors.
A handmade Kashmiri carpet ranges from anywhere between Rs 500 to 1,00,000 depending upon the workmanship. But still, this has not changed the life of the artisans much.
This art is slowly dying. The artisans are slowly changing their field and pursuing a different profession. If we all recognize this art form and support the artisans by either spreading the word or buying directly this industry could definitely survive and again come back.