In Rajasthan, Jaipur has emerged as the centre for weaving crafts.
Stella Kramrisch, an art historian writes, "In the Rig Veda and the Upanishads, the universe is envisioned as a fabric woven by gods." Hence, the tradition and importance of the wholeness of a large piece of fabric, like a saree or carpet, becomes quite obvious in India. Thereby, such garment pieces grace the household of a commoner and the palace of kings, alike!
The Pink City has been a major sourcing centre for the flatwoven fabrics called dhurries (durrie/dari), which add to the rich artistic heritage of this city. Come along with us as we chronicle a few facts about this aesthetic tradition of Jaipur!
The carpet hub of Rajasthan
Though carpets have said to have arrived in India with the invasions of Ghauri and Ghazni, the introduction of carpet weaving is accredited to the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. He patronised Persian carpets for his royal court and palaces. In Rajasthan, carpets are popularly known to be first manufactured in the 17th-century when carpet weavers from Afghanistan were introduced to the royal ateliers.
However, dhurries- the rugs traditionally belonging to India, are believed to trace their origin back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. It is one of the most famous weaving traditions of Rajasthan in which, mostly geometric and floral patterns are used with an explosion of colours. Gradually, the two weaving traditions intermingled and gave the Indian carpet industry a new aesthetic.
In Rajasthan, Jaipur has emerged as the centre for weaving crafts as the densely hand-knotted woollen carpets and cotton dhurries started attracting buyers from the international markets. The reason for this city's rise to prominence was the availability of artisans and raw materials that are required to make these flatwoven fabrics.
To the world, with love from Jaipur
Particularly inspired by the historic designs available in the collections of Rajput kings, large carpets with iconic designs were created by convicts of the Jaipur Central Jail during the colonial times. Their designs and work became internationally famous and were known as Convict Carpets. In the 20th-century, the Jaipur Jail is said to have received commissioned work for the Viceroy's House in Delhi.
Today, these jail carpets are considered collectables, sold at auctions and coveted by museums as they form an important part of Indian history. In recent years, social enterprises have embarked upon carpet weaving as reformation projects for jail inmates. Jaipur Rugs' Freedom Manchaha collection are made by Jaipur Jail inmates, however, unlike colonial times, they can choose if they wish to participate and what designs they want to weave.
Moving over their traditional use as floor rugs, Rajasthani dhurries and Jaipur carpets have now become a symbol of wealth that adorn the houses of connoisseurs of Indian art as tapestries and upholsteries, among other things. Indulge yourself with a little online window shopping during this pandemic. Also, don't forget to add a few of these remarkable reminders of an era gone by to your cart, if something special catches your eye!