Origin: This art form started as a necessity due to extreme cold weather. Himachali carpets are often confused with Kashmiri carpets. However, the difference lies in the designs. The common designs in Kashmiri carpets are inspired by Persian culture whereas Himachali carpets speak of a mixture of Tibetan and Hindu culture. Their beautiful motifs and traditional pahari design make them unique and outstanding. These carpets are made from the wool of Giangi Sheep.
Present Day: Rugs and carpets are a significant element of Himachal Pradesh’s handicrafts. Varied items made with wool are Chutku or blanket, Gudma or soft blanket, Thobi or floor covering and Kharcha or mattress. These carpets are available in subtle colours, varied shapes and sizes with beautiful and extravagant designs. Rich in design these carpets are durable in texture. Decorated with different types of motifs such as dragon borrowed from China, Swastiks inspired from Hindu culture, floral, nature based patterns or figures like dragon, Tibetan birds called dak, jira, dragons and the god of lightning etc.
One can see different patterns like geometric, Aztec, block of colours in these carpets. A large percentage of Tibetan craftsmen weave woolen carpets in the different villages of Bhuppur, Puruwala, Sataun, and Kamsan in the Paonta block of Sirmur district.
Procedure: Goat hairs and sheep’s wool are used to make carpets and rugs. In the high altitudes of Himachal Pradesh, sheep and goat rearing is a daily task for villagers involved in blanket-weaving and felting. Mattresses, locally called Kharchas, are made of woolen yarn derived from goat’s hair. Another variety of carpets, churned out from goat’s hair are Thobis. These are black and grey carpets made at Pangi in Chamba district. The designs found on these carpets are trishul (trident), swastika, and an eight-pointed design that is concoction of a diamond and a concentric circle.
Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh is known for finest weave. The wool left from pashmina shawls is used to weave a rough yarn called Sheli. This wool helps in making local carpets such as Karcha and Chuktu. A new addition in the world of carpets is Numdha that involves felting wool and creating designs with thread.
There is another common carpet called Duns. Duns are bedside carpets made by local traditional weavers. These carpets have 60 knots per square inch. Designs of these carpets are usually inspired by alpana or rangoli. Chali is also another type of carpet which is coarse in texture. It is mostly found in Lahaul. Weavers make Chutku or Blanket, Gudma or soft blanket, Thobi or floor covering, Kharcha or mattress.
Gudma is the local name for a fleecy, soft, and heavy blanket which is woven by the local villagers in natural colours and finished with a warm red or black trimming. It can be found in Giabong and Kulu valleys. Carpet making process involves collecting wool, processing it, dyeing it, then weaving and finally finishing it. The raw material used is basically a combination of cotton and wool
Generations have dipped their hands in weaving carpets and they run their production units from their homes. Women of Himachal Pradesh mainly wear the weaver’s hat.
The carpet industry plays a pivotal role in India’s economic growth. This is one of the most demanded export item from India. This industry has a strong base in Himachal Pradesh which contributes as a large exporter of carpets and rugs. This industry is labour intensive, low investment and family based skills. Because of excellent finish, intricate work and quality the prices of these carpets are high. The entire process of carpet weaving makes it worthy for high price.
Bring Home Carpets: You can buy these carpets from the markets of Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur, Kangra, Lahaul and Spiti and Chamba districts of the state.