Origin: Once upon time, from Persia a Sufi mystic named Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani visited Kashmir. His caravan comprised highly skilled weavers and came via the silk route. And thus, Kashmir became the land of carpet weaving. Another school of thought believes, in 15th century, Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin king Budshah introduced this craft to Kashmir. However, both theories find comfort in the fact that artisans were invited from Persia to train Kashmiris in the art of spinning and weaving. These hand knotted carpets are locally known as KalBaffi or Qaleen.
Present Day: Kharkhaana is the title given to carpet factory in Kashmir. Families come together to weave this piece of history. Srinagar houses a number of established factories. These carpets are mainly manufactured in local rural areas of Kashmir and certain artisans continue to operate out of their vicinity of their homes.
The most common patterns found on these carpets are the tree of life, flowers, birds, and other beautiful motifs. The inspiration behind these patterns or designs is the natural beauty of Kashmir. Influences of Persian culture have also been woven these beauties.
On sale are different types of Kashmir carpets such as Afshar Carpet, Antique Carpet, Baluch Carpet, Heriz Carpet and Persian Carpets etc. The different types of designs are Artibal, Kashan, Kirman, Meshed and Bokhara etc. This industry is famous for being hand-made, nowadays, computerised designing is slowing paving its way in.
Procedure: The most common design of a carpet takes around 8 to 12 months to complete and even two to three years depending upon the complex and intricate designs.
The process starts from cultivation of silk, dyeing it and then they decide the design for the carpet, followed by weaving and finishing. In local Kashmiri language Nakaash is the person who designs the carpet, Kalimba is the one who weaves it and the ranger is the dyer. In the process of weaving talim chart (coded colour chart) has to be followed which indicates the number of knots to be woven as per the colours.
The two distinctive knots are Farsi Baff (Kashmiri One) and Sehna or Sinneh (Persian One). The Kashmir carpets come in the different sizes like 2x3, 2 ½ x4, 3x5, 6x4, 6x9, famous ones are in the size of 18x18, or 20x20 knots. There are also carpets with 3600 knots per sq. inch which are only custom made to be displayed in museum. Higher knots makes the carpet more durable. Mostly, the colours are subtle with earthy tones or jewel like tones Beige- golden, golden browns, ruby red, sapphire blue, emerald green etc. Weaving is done on the loom and once the carpet is woven it is then washed with soap, bleaching agents and other chemicals to add lustre to it as the last step.
The Carpet industry plays a pivotal role in India’s economic growth. This is one of the most demanded export item from India. It has a huge demand overseas and is exported to over 100 nations, a few of them are U.K, Germany, Netherland, Italy, France and Gulf Countries etc.
Bring Home Carpets: You can buy these carpets from Lal Chowk, Badshah Chowk of Srinagar, Raghunath Bazaar and Hari Market in Jammu and J&K Arts Emporium and other local markets