Carpets from Kashmir
There are numerous hand knotted woolen carpet producing centers in India but traditional hand knotted silk carpets in India can only be found in Kashmir. The origins of the traditional silk carpets of Kashmir can be traced to the Mughal period.
Hand knotted pure silk carpets are world famous for their softness and craftsmanship. These carpets are very expensive due to their being labor intensive and it takes a couple of at least one year to create a good silk carpet. The process of creating a hand knotted silk carpet is lengthy and a lot of preparation has to be made by the craftsman before weaving the carpet. The yarn used determines the type of the carpet to be created. Woolen carpets are always created on a cotton base with woolen yarn. Silk yarn is sometimes used in woolen carpets as highlights on certain designs and motifs.
On the other hand silk carpets are those carpets, which are created on a silk pile. Silk carpets are also created on a cotton or woolen pile. Generally silk carpets are made up of 80% of silk yarn and 20% of cotton yarn. These carpets have more than 400 knots per square inch. 100% pure silk carpets have very high knotage per inch. The knots per square inch of such carpet can range between 400-1600 knots per square inch. This high percentage of knottage insures the life and durability of these carpets.
The craftsmen in Kashmir follow the traditional Persian Islamic designs of Kirman, Kashan, and lsfahan, Herat etc. Though there is a strong Persian influence in Kashmiri carpets, yet one can also see local variations.
The most recurring motif that is found on silk carpets from Kashmir is the depiction of the tree of life, in all its glory. The natural beauty of Kashmir and its picturesque views have inspired the carpet weavers. Other popular themes are: hunting scenes, bird and animal motifs and historic themes. These carpets come in a variety of colors and designs.
Carpets from Kashmir are subtle in comparison with the carpets produced from other parts of the country. It is because carpets made in Kashmir are made with yarn dyed with mineral colors, as vegetable dyes are not used at all. Hues of red, blue and yellow color are mainly used.