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History Of Indian Rugs

Woolen carpets were known in India as early as 500 B.C. References to woven mats and floor coverings can be found in ancient and medieval Indian literature. But the most famous type of Indian carpets, pile carpets came to India in the reign of Akbar in 16th century.

He in 1580A.D. brought certain Persian carpet weavers to India and established them here. The art grew and flourished here. It was modified as per the royal tastes and mixed with the Indian arts. The Persian carpets were thus Indianized. It spread to the whole subcontinent with each area having its own specialties.

From the beginning, wool or silks have been the basic material of the knotted carpets. The wool may have a variety of origins as per the type of carpet being made. Silk knots are also used in Kashmir region. The patterns varied from vines and floral patterns, animal and bird figures and geometric and calligraphic patterns.

Rugs from Akbar's reign (1556-1605) used cotton warp and wool pile and color scheme had multiple shades of blues, greens, and other colors on a red base. The patterns were an adaptation of Persian style but latter modified to Indian tastes.

Carpets of Jahangir's reign (1605-27) were more refined. Materials like silk and pashmina were used that allowed greater number of knots to be incorporated. Patterns resembled miniature paintings. Subtle gradations, and shadings with yarns were themselves artistic. The patterns were a reflection of manuscript paintings. They were technically refined in both design and construction. The carpets had scrolling vines, flowering plants, and more naturalistic animals in pictorial or overall pattern.

During Shahjahan's reign (1628-58) art of carpets had reached new heights Warps and wefts of fine silk yarns allowed as many as 2,000 knots per square inch. Silk or pashmina piles gave the carpets a velvet like texture. Yarn shading was as sophisticated as in Jahangir's reign. Flowers were now the primary elements of design.

Though during the reign of Auranzeb (1658 onwards), all crafts saw a downfall of almost all crafts, carpet craft sustained. Reason may be that they were required for all religious purposes. The patterns were primarily floral all over with at times geometric or calligraphic trims.

Chinese and European patterns also influenced the art in their own way. With their mythical characters finding way in the carpets, it can be clearly seen. Calligraphy influenced the carpet craft as it did the other crafts.

Though like all other crafts, carpet making also saw a downfall for sometime, the craft sustained in the traditional families.

The Indian carpets are considered most technically accomplished classical carpets. The carpet weavers over the time have grown artistically. Indian Carpets are renowned for their exquisite designs, elegance, attractive colors and workmanship.

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