Origin: In the 16th century, Moghul emperor Akbar, invited Persian carpet weavers from Persia to India, to establish the Royal Workshop. He commissioned them to craft carpets equally magnificent as to those in Persia.
Another theory opines that in the early 19th Century, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered Kashmiri, carpet and shawl weavers migrated to Amritsar. This migrated skilled craftsmen combined with the accessibility of fine quality wool ensured Punjab transformed into the land of fine hand-knotted woollen carpets.
Flip through the designs of old Indian carpets such as Tree of Life, The Bird of Paradise, Circle, Swastika, Lotus flower etc and you will notice that the colours were confined to red, blue, green, yellow, brown, black and white.
Punjab rugs are a testimonial of European influence and Western taste. The reason being, during the 19th century, weavers adopted to the demand for carpets in both the United States and Europe.
Present Day: The Indian handicrafts at the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in London, opened the worlds interest in knotted carpets. This followed by English carpet companies setting up their base in Amritsar. These English companies brought with them an economic boom. Unfortunately, this economic boom ended with the colonial rule.
Today, the interest of people in this craft is diminishing. The business of knotted carpets is largely take care by middlemen who do not pay artisans enough. Thus, they have started looking other ways to support their family. Government has adopted various steps to preserve and encourage this craft.
Procedure: To make knotted carpets, woollen yarn is knotted employing the Persian knot encircling the single threads of a cotton wrap. So, it begins with stretching warp threads on a loom and then knotting the pile to them. Next step is to insert weft thread for shorning of pile. Tightness of the knot, number of knots per square inch and shortness of pile determine the quality of rug. More knots mean the run is going to look better. The weavers sketch their design on a colour coded pattern drawn on a graph. They then look at this pattern whist making the design.
Raw materials are dyed using natural colours. The Bokhara and mouri- geometrical patterns are the most loved. These are black and cream woven on a deep red, ivory or green ground.
Bring Home Knotted Carpets of Punjab: The traditional knotted carpets can be picked from the carpet shops of Amritsar or Punjab Emporium.