Monday, June 12, 2017

Kashmir Tales – The Carpet Weavers


If you guys have been following my blog regularly, you might have noticed I always go quiet for two weeks every three months. First of all - my apologies and than you all for still following me! I am trying to juggle with work and full time education along with travelling and my travel blog, and every 3 month I have exams which leaves me with no time to write for a week. But as always, I am back and this time with the final chapter of my Kashmir Tales.

The carpet weaving machine
Kashmir flaunts its pristine gift of nature and survives with quaint, war zoned, recovering lanes full hopeful faces searching for life and smiling at what they have. Beautiful, quiet and enchanting is the place but equally amazing is the amount of art that flourished and has survived in this state. We have all heard of the Pashmina weaving that happens only in Kashmir but another thing that is ethnic to Kashmir is the Kashmiri carpet and rug weaving and guess what carpets made in Kashmir are not famous just in India but worldwide!

When I travel, I interact a lot with locals, get to know the place and its people as much as I can, collect stories, but often fail to pen them all down. In this current series of Kashmir Tales, I have made a conscious effort to share a piece of my local exploration of Kashmir and today I want to tell you more about the carpet weavers of the area.


During my stay in Srinagar I visited one of the premier carpet manufacturers and dealers of Kashmiri Carpets – Shawart Palace. Not really old, but well known for bringing a lot of carpet weavers under one roof. Right when you enter Shawart, you see a loom and a man weaving there, pretty oblivious to the customers entering and staring at his work. You see the work for about 20 minutes and it leaves you awestruck. You walk inside and you see a plethora of completed designs and you are mesmerized with the intricate work that has gone into each of the carpets and rugs in the room.

Rug and carpet weaving in Kashmir dates back to 11th century when the locals wove simpleton rugs for their own houses. Eventually with advent of Mughals in the Kashmir valley the rugs got artistic. But it was in the early 15th century when Badshah Zain-ul-Abidin brought a lot of Persian artisans with him to the valley who with the locals created regal rugs and carpets by blending pure wool and silk and by using the old school Persian techniques of hand woven rugs.

My dad, deep in conversation with the owner of the place.
The store owner at Shawart Palace told us that Kashmiri Carpets were famous because of their design and technique. Unlike the common carpets, that are tufted, Kashmiri rugs are hand knotted and hence are strong and ageless in a way. He also told me how these carpets are in high demand abroad, especially in gulf countries for, unlike the Persian rugs, Kashmiri rugs use bright colours as major thread work is of silk on wool and still manage to create major Islamic designs, oriental prints, floral styles and now days a lot of Rajasthani prints too. He said they have 50 something weavers working for their store and one weaver finishes a standard 900 by 900 knots carpet in about 8 months but as carpets sell for very high rates abroad it the produce is enough to give the workers, the shop and the actual carpet handloom more than enough revenue per year.

I did not dare ask him how much overpriced or under-priced a rug is at the store for Indians from the point of view of a weaver and how much a weaver earns. Neither did I questions the price of the ones they export, because looking around at the work I thought rich people wouldn’t mind paying for the quality they would be getting due to the skillfulness and diligence of the craftsmen who pour their hearts out for months to create these seemingly ostentatious carpets.

Colours!
I feel a lot of times that some form of art is priceless and the Kashmiri carpets sure seem to fall in the priceless zone.


Do you guys talk to locals during your travel and try to find more about some famous art or cultural trait of the place? Do let me know in the comments below.

21 comments:

  1. Such gorgeous craft! I'm always stunned by the awesomeness our craftspersons manage to create with their own hands!!! Its also awesome that these crafts have survived centuries!
    To answer your question, yes, I do! Local arts and crafts are what I get more interested in than local cuisine!

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  2. Loved the fact that there is so much history involved (Mughals, Persians ..) in a craft. And the oriental and floral prints of the Kashmir carpets are amazingly beautiful. Would love to have at my home one! ;-)

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  3. Those carpets are beautifully hand crafted so regardless of the price, I'm sure its worth it. Definitely would love to have one or two of it at home.

    Liz Gen | www.fatmoments.com

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  4. Thos ecarpets are gorgeous and made with lots of effort, thus it deserves to be treasured. Weaved carpets here in the Philippines especially from Mindanao are depict as bespoke.

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  5. I love rugs of all kinds. The artistry that goes behind them is awesome. Beauty that lasts a lifetime is worth 8 months of work for sure. Thanks for sharing. I always haggle as l love a bargain :-).

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  6. This is indeed an exquisite art. We used to own a Kashmiri carpet years back. The bright colors would lit up the living room. What an beautiful experience you had!

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  7. Gorgeous carpets, aren't they. Glad somehow the tradition has lived on...

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  8. Those carpets are beautifully hand crafted so regardless of the price, I'm sure its worth it. .. .
    goldenslot
    บาคาร่าออนไลน์

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  9. Kashmiri carpets are world renowned and glad that you got a chance to meet the owner and all behind-the-scenes of the carpet making. I wish they are paying well to all those who are putting their heart and soul into the manufacturing of these beautiful carpets!

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  10. Kashmiri carpets and shawls have long dominated the indian market. And I cannot imagine why!

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  11. To answer your question: I always talk to locals while traveling because that is the only way you can collect stories, be more responsible about their culture and region.
    Loved your documentation of carpet weaving. The picture with the thread reels is wow.
    Absolutely love textile and crafts in India. there is just so much diversity!

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  12. I've always seen these and find it incredible how they're made. I've heard that you have to be careful now because there are a lot of fakes on the market. But going to a place where you can see them being made definitely would alleviate that!

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  13. I love chatting to locals too! You learn so much about the area. This story about the rugs and the Kashmiri rug weavers is amazing. I imagine that the weaver must only be able to do this type of work for a certain length of time before their hands or eyesight would become an issue. It looks like it would be extremely difficult work.

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  14. It's the best way of travelling when you get to talk to locas and learn their story. These carpets are such masterpieces. It's really interesting how they are made.

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  15. Wow when you think of how much work goes into weaving one of these carpets its amazing. And I didn't realise they dated back so far its definitely a skill.

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  16. I didn't know anything about Kashmiri Carpets before reading this. They are obviously a special type of carpet to be in high demand in the gulf countries. I can see from your images they do look more colorful than the carpets I'm used to seeing, I'd love to touch them and see more designs.

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  17. Kashmiri carpets have a class of their own! Unbeatable! So good to know the details involved in making them.

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  18. Good to see you continuing with your passion for blogging. :)

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  19. Wow, that carpet is really beautiful. I'd love to see a Kashmiri carpet get made in front of my eyes. Maybe one day i'll see for myself.

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  20. I always heard how beautiful Kashmir is but never knew it is out of heaven <3 Now after reading this am surely gonna plan my visit to Kashmir when am in India :)

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  21. The carpets look awesome. I have been fascinated on how others do the traditional way of weaving. I like that the Kashmiri rugs have bright colors because you can use it as a centerpiece in your house. I am sure that these are expensive. They should be. It is a very labor intensive process to make them.

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