Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Symbolic Threads

Chakrata is a tiny town in the Northern district of Dehradun. It's mountainous landscape and slow pace of life probably lured a large Tibetan community to it and in 1962, a Tibetan carpet weaving centre was created in order to uplift their economic life as well as preserve an art that could otherwise become endangered.

Chakrata - known for its serene and pollution free environment
Image courtesy: www.gurgaonsite.com
Their technique is similar to other handmade carpet weaving methods around the world: knots are made from yard, linked to the stretched threads on the loom, and then beaten down with a comb. The weft thread passed through the row and the knots are cut. This process is repeated until an entire tapestry is formed, sometimes taking up to a month to create.

Weaving patterns on the loom
The threads are beaten down with a 'panja' to make a firm row of pattern
Then the weft thread is passed through for the row and the knots are cut out from the needle. 

Once the carpet is woven on the loom, it is then removed and the finishing process starts – this includes trimming the surface of the carpet and then cutting out the design using scissors. The deftness and skill with which each weaver works give each carpet its unique quality. 
Depending on size, each carpet takes a minimum of 15 days to two months to make. 

What is fascinating however, is the color and the imagery.

Their dyes (though currently the synthetic dyes are cheaper and less maintenance is required so they are becoming increasingly popular) are traditional made from indigo (blue), madder root (red), walnut husks (brown), marigolds (yellow, orange) and leaves (green). 

Finished carpets on display
The subjects they depict are, in a way, a form of retaining their spirituality and religion. Their most popular symbols are:

1. The Lotus: enlightenment

2. A pair of fish/dragon/deer: love and freedom

3. Mandala or the Eternal Knot: harmony

4. Wheel of Dharma: knowledge and law

5. Conch: the teachings of the Buddha

6. Treasure Vase: prosperity

7. Umbrella: crown protector

8. Victory banner: freedom and victory over negativity

What happens as a result is that a simple rug is not only a symbolic story of how to live a 'right' life, but also a means to physically allow those that create these rugs to become their philosophy. 

Text: Wooly Eyes
Image courtesy: Judith

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...