The Leading Centre For Carpet Weaving: Uttar Pradesh
Although carpets are woven all over the country, Uttar Pradesh leads with about 10 centres churning out 90 percent of the production and housing 75 percent of the weavers. The main centers are Mirzapur, Bhadohi, Khamaria and about 500 villages in this area. It has been for long the most important market for carpets, with a great reputation.
The Themes And The Designs
Though there is not much originality in the designs used, the local carpet weavers have some special designs of their own. The designs include the Taj Mahal, in natural colour or any tint and 'Sirdar' in plain body and subdued colours with hand embossed or hand carved borders in rose-beige, honey-beige, ivory and soft green.
They also make use of the 18th century designs with short clippings of the yarn around the contours of the pattern to give it a sculpturesque look. Mostly pastel shades are used but intermingled with bright colours.
The Dextrous Craftsmen
There is a lot of proficiency involved in the making of designs, as the entire process is dependent on the careful execution of the design. The design is carefully prepared on a graph paper with extreme care. Twisted cotton thread is used for the finer weaves and sometimes jute twine for the rougher qualities.
The weaver twists the thread into two-warp threads for weaving and ties the knot. The carpets of this region are mostly in medium quality and the knots are around 60 per sq. inch as the sculptured styled carpets do not call for a large number of knots. These carpets are popular export items today.
The Hub Of Carpet Weaving
Agra in Uttar Pradesh is one of the old carpet centers of the Mughal days. It produces both the traditional as well as the new designs. The weaving is done under the "calling out" system, in which the master weaver follows the design and keeps calling out to the weavers the colors to be used for each knot.
Among the oriental design carpets made, the Indo-Ispahan and Indo- Kashan are alike except that the former has the long leaf and the latter the small leaf and flower.
In Shahjahapur, both cotton and woollen carpets are made. The designs are of the old, Persian style. The overall base color is a clear soft scarlet and the field diapered with golden yellow diamond shapes scattered around, broken by a black line wandering through the field.
The border is formed by geometrical yellow floral and dark lineated leaf design rising at right angles to a black centre line. Among the traditional designs are 'kethariwala jal', 'jainamaz takhdar'.