Agra carpet, late 19th century. Nazmiyal Collection
Sir George Birdwood, one of the greatest authorities on Indian carpets, said that they "...gained their reputations for the originality and great beauty of their designs, the harmony of their colouring, and their special fitness for the houses of the cultivated, the wealthy and the great".
And that's how he describes one of the Indian carpets at the Paris Exposition of 1878: "it is a carpet which it will be difficult to put into a European room, as its surface is too beautiful to allow of its being broken by furniture. It is a carpet to be looked at like a golden sunset...".
As at the start carpet weaving was patronized by the higher class it reflected its taste in designs: gardens, flowers, fruits and hunting were popular themes at those times. With the end of the patronage and the rise of interest from western countries the Indian weavers widened assortment of patterns and now there are large varieties of carpet designs offered: from Persian to Scandinavian, from Central Asian to Chinese.
Mogul carpet, 1600-1699. Hand knotted on cotton warp and weft; 154 knots per sq. in. The animals in this carpet are balanced by many curving floral stems; these curves enhance the rather playful movements of the animals. Victoria and Albert Museum
Kashmir carpet, ca.1650. Knotted-pile pashmina (goat-hair) on silk. Victoria and Albert Museum
A definite feature of the Indian carpet is its specified border, that is framing the border line with different patterns to match similar patterns to balance in the middle of the carpet. Each motif has a significance. The circle means eternity; zigzag - water; the tree is bounty and the swastika means guiding light in darkness. Colours, just like designs, have a basic symbolism of their own: white and green together speak of joy; white alone refers to mourning; red and purple mark rank and distinction; black and dark blue signify sadness, darkness and trouble.
Among Indian wool rugs Kashmiri ones are perhaps the highest in quality and undoubtedly most famed. Kashmir makes the old Indo-Persian and the central Asian types like Bokhara and also the Turkish. Designs cover a wide range from medallions and vases to hunting and animal scenes. The popular ones are the scenic of pictorial with finely drawn stems, leaves, giant flower heads, flowering trees. The number of knots may vary between 125 to 500 a sq. inch.
Kashmir carpet, Carpets of Kashmir
Amritsar carpet, late 19th century. Fred Moheban Gallery
Amritsar in Punjab came up as a carpet centre only from the late 19th century. The specialty of Amritsar are the mauri carpets, originally from Meru in Central Asia. In a way they resemble the Bokharas except that here the octagons are smaller and the shades are lighter.
Agra carpet, 19th century. Fred Moheban Gallery
So, if you want to bring some luxury, comfort, beauty and a little bit of history into your house think about an Indian woolen carpet.