Carpets from Banaras

Dhurries are made manually by skilled artisans on a traditional horizontal loom or vertical loom.Dhurries can be used year round. The cotton dhurrie is warm in winters and cool in summers.The carpet weaving centers of Varanasi, Bhadoi, and Mirzapur were set up by a Persian master weaver in the 17th century.

High quality hand-knotted carpets—nearly 200 knots per square inch—are made in Bhadohi and Mirzapur which have the largest production in the country. Wool and silk are knotted, on a cotton foundation and both Persian and Tibetan knots are used. The weaving industry comprises dyers, designers and weavers. Knotting is done on a vertical loom. Sometimes a carpet is knotted by four people. The pile is roughly clipped during the weaving and then carefully after.

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The weavers live in the villages surrounding the town and are mostly farmers who weave carpets between seasons. Dhurrie weaving is essentially a domestic craft that has found an international market for the patterned flat weave structures woven in Mirzapur. In Agra, striped and panja dhurries with prayer niches were woven by women in the backyard of their homes. Now the craft is a major cottage industry. In Aligarh, julahas, Muslim weavers, weave dhurries. Panja dhurries are woven in plain weave using the weft-faced tapestry technique.

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During the Mughal era, prayer rugs—saf and mussalahs, were woven for the mosques in Agra. Workshops wove large blue and white striped dhurries for the durbars, courts, and palaces. Under the British, narrative dhurrie depicting village life and native flora and fauna were made. The weavers use the horizontal loom to weave. In Agra many of the designs are inspired by the inlay work done in marble in the Taj Mahal.

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Traditional designs, rarely woven now, were the jaal, kosi, (geometric motif) and champa flower. Weavers now use lighter colours, and brighter colours are given a stone wash.

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