Exploring The Rich Heritage Of Indian Textile: Journey Through The Carpet Weaving Hub Of India- Uttar Pradesh | Culture News

India is home to numerous ancient crafts that have yet to be found. Even though it is not a secret art, the centuries-old carpet weaving business is sometimes one of the least recognised. Today, not only in the nation but also globally, it is one of the greatest handicraft industries.  

Carpet weaving has its roots in mediaeval times, when Persia, China, and Afghanistan contributed their knowledge and experience to the industry. The technique was then only widely used in North Indian villages and small towns. However, the current carpet weaving business is thriving in several states, each of which has its own distinctive style. 

In an exclusive interview with Zee News English, Angelique Dhama, CEO, Obeetee Carpets- Retail talks about the value of handcrafted and handmade weaving even in the 21st century.

Angelique says, “The value of handcrafted and handmade is something that is unmatched even in the 21st century, when machines can basically create anything you program them to. However, there is something utterly special about the beauty of handcrafted, and that is its human essence. From the time immemorial, artisans have been crafting beautiful accents, furnishings, and even wearables weaving their threads with utmost passion, and their generationally inherited skills. Hand knotted Carpets, which date back as old as the regime of Emperor Jahangir, are even today the most sought furnishings.”

The art of handcrafting is one of our cultural history, it is one of craft that transcends time, and it is a nostalgia which weaves itself in the soft, plush canvases of hand knotted rugs and carpets.

Many influential homeowners acquire these furnishings today to adorn their homes with something exceptional and unique, while art connoisseurs collect them as art pieces for their walls or floors.

While you can find these handcrafted furnishings in almost any state you reside in, or visit, there are only a few that actually master in the craft of handcrafting these meticulous carpets. The most prominent one that stands firm as a hub of carpet weaving today is Mirzapur and Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh. 

You might’ve even heard the name in the popular OTT series called Mirzapur, and one of its leading character ‘kaleen Bhaiya’ who’s the owner of a carpet manufacturing/exports unit. The reason that even the makers of the web series made Mirzapur the talking point with reference to carpet making says a lot about the magnitude of handcrafting in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Emergence of Traditional Handcrafted Rugs in Mirzapur

The art of carpet weaving, a tapestry that would eventually enrich the cultural fabric of the Mirzapur region, emerged through a confluence of historical events and skilled craftsmanship. While the origins of carpet weaving in Mirzapur can be traced back to the ancient roots of India’s textile heritage, it was during the late 19th century that the region gained prominence as a hub for this exquisite craft.

“The aftermath of the 1857 war, known as the Indian Mutiny, brought about a significant migration of skilled carpet weavers to the Mirzapur area. Amid the turmoil and upheaval, these artisans sought refuge in the tranquil embrace of this region, finding solace in their age-old craft. The village of Madhosingh, situated along the G.T. Road between Bhadohi and Mirzapur, became a sanctuary for these weavers. Here, on a small scale, the weaving of carpets began anew,” highlights Angelique Dhama.

“However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the true potential of carpet weaving in Mirzapur would come to light. Observing the skilled hands at work, individuals like Mr. Brownford recognized the economic viability of this craft.This realization led to the establishment of carpet-making companies such as M/s. E. Hill and Co. in neighbouring Khamaria. This marked the initial spark that would ignite the flame of Mirzapur’s carpet industry.”

As the industry gained momentum, Mirzapur’s reputation as a weaving centre grew. The artistry and precision of the weavers, who inherited the craft through generations, combined with the introduction of innovative designs and techniques, lent a distinctive charm to the carpets produced in the region. 

Angelique Dhama points out, “The legacy of Mr. A. Tellery and his factory in Bhadohi, alongside the emergence of Indian Masters like Peer Mohammad, further solidified Mirzapur’s reputation as a hub for carpet weaving and export.”

Emergence of handknotting in the city of Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh

Flowing through the banks of India is the river Ganges, touching the shore of a district in Uttar Pradesh called Bhadohi. 

“Being the oldest carpet weaving hub of India, Bhadohi constitutes over 60 percent of the sub-continent’s rug-making industry. Furthermore, the craftspeople have the utmost respect for their craft as it has been passed down to them from their descendants,” mentions Angelique Dhama- CEO, Obeetee Carpets (Retail).

Keeping their craftsmanship away from the rapid wave of westernization, the talented artisans have kept the outstanding craft of carpet weaving alive for generations. The advent of this exquisite craft ranges back to the 16th century which entered the streets of Bhadohi through the hands of artisans who visited the region through grand trunk road which is a major trade route for travelers from many national and international regions.

The craft technique is just as intriguing as the history of this magnificent craft. Every carpet that is woven in Bhadohi is hand knotted, as each artisan ties between six & nine-thousand knots a day. It will be an overstatement to state that craftsmen of Bhadohi do not just create knots in their carpets, but they weave stories. 

“Each of these stories represent the spirit of solidarity among the craftsmen, the ‘strong knit’ between their families, and the humble ‘Tehzeeb’ of the artisans in the district,” continues CEO, Obeetee Carpets.

When it comes to quality of handcrafted rugs, a crucial factor that determines the quality of a carpet is the amount of knots tied and the materials used in the making of a carpet. 

Ensuring the same, a single Bhadohi carpet can boast up to 425 knots per sq. inch- the ideal figure in premium quality carpets. The materials used in the handcrafted carpets can range from soft blended wool to premium quality silk, or a combination of both.

Types of weaving

Hand-Knotted Rugs

An ancient art form, hand-knotted rugs are the pinnacle of rug making, born from the skilled hands of artisans in UP. These masterpieces, with their intricate designs, require not only a loom but a profound mastery of the craft. Over the course of months, artisans weave these rugs by hand, utilizing natural materials like wool, silk, cotton, and viscose. 

The quality and value of each rug are intricately tied to the number of knots per square inch, with a higher density signifying superior craftsmanship. This technique breathes life into traditional rugs like Persian, Moroccan, and Tibetan styles.

Hand Tufted Rugs

Hand tufted rugs, another gem in the crown of the state’s craft, blend tradition with modernity. Craftsmen employ both handwork and specialized mechanized tools to create these rugs, where woollen threads are punched into a canvas mounted on a frame. 

The process, faster than hand-knotting, introduces an element of affordability without compromising on quality. The distinct hallmark of hand tufted rugs lies in their backing, secured with a scrim fabric. Completion comes with the addition of fringes, sewn or glued.

Flat Weaves

Flat weaves feature a weaving technique reminiscent of textiles. Crafted by interlacing warp and weft threads, these rugs embody artistry that spans centuries. Dhurries, hailing from India, and Kilims, originating in Persia, represent just a fraction of the myriad forms flat weaves take. Woven into each thread is a chapter of cultural heritage, woven with intricate patterns and vibrant colours, each telling its own unique tale.

Handwoven Rugs and Carpets

The meticulous artistry of handwoven rugs and carpets captures the essence of the craft of Uttar Pradesh. From design selection to intricate loom setup, skilled artisans weave their stories into each piece. 

Whether through knotting or flat weaving techniques, every knot and weft thread speaks to a tradition of excellence. Precision, attention to detail, and colour blending create carpets that transcend mere floor coverings, becoming functional masterpieces.

The legacy of Indian carpet making emanates from the heart of skilled artisans in Uttar Pradesh. Through centuries, they have woven a rich canvas of tradition and innovation, creating textiles that are a reflection of India’s cultural mosaic. 

With patterns that bridge past and present, these rugs embody both artistry and history. With designs that are a remarkable concoction of intricacy, details, and aesthetics, the artistry of Uttar Pradesh is keeping a centuries old craft alive even in the 21st century.


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