A Carpet is a life long investment-it may well be the single most expensive purchase during your trip to Kashmir. Kashmiri carpets are world renowned for two things- they are hand made and they are always knotted, never tufted. It is extremely instructive to watch a carpet being made- your dealer can probably arrange it for you. Stretched tightly on a frame is the warp of Carpet. The weft threads are passed through, the ‘talim’ or design and color specifications are then worked out on this: a strand of yarn is looped through the warp & weft, knotted and then cut. The yarn used normally is silk, wool or silk and wool. Woolen carpets always have a cotton base (Warp & Weft), silk usually have cotton base. Sometimes however, the base is also silk in which case you will see that the fringe is silk; the cost increases proportionately. Occasionally, carpets are made on a cotton base, mainly of woolen pile with silk yarn used as highlights on certain motifs.
When the dealer specifies the percentage of each yarn used, he is taking into account the yarn used for the base too. Therefore, a carpet with a pure silk pile may be referred to as a 80% silk carpet.Carpet weaving in Kashmir was not originally indigenous but is thought to have come in by way of Persia. Till today most designs are distinctly Persian with local; variations. One example, however, of a typical Kashmiri design is the tree of life. Persian design not withstanding, any carpet woven in Kashmir is referred to as Kashmiri. The color-way of Carpet, and its details differentiate it from any other carpet. And while on the subject of colors, it should be kept in mind that although the colors of Kashmiri carpets are more subtle and muted than elsewhere in the country, only chemical dyes are used-vegetable dyes have not been available now for hundred years.
The knotting of the carpet is the most important aspect, determining its durability and value, in addition to its design. Basically, the more knots per square inch, the greater its value and durability. Also there are single and double knotted carpets. You can quiet easily identify one from the other on the reverse of the carpet. The effect that it has on the pile, too, is important- a double knotted carpet has a pile that bends when you brush it one way with your hand, and stands upright when it is brushed in other direction. A Single knotted carpet is fluffier and more resistant to touch.
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