Tibetans use carpet for many purposes ranging from flooring to wall hanging to horse saddles, though the most common use is as a seating carpet.
The knotting method used in Tibetan carpet making is different from that used in other carpet-making traditions worldwide.
All the carpets are made of organic materials and all the carpets are hand-made. The vegetable Dyes used to make carpest are tea leaves, Barberry plant, rumex leaf, myrobalan nut, madder root, indigo rock etc.
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Steps involved in Tibetan Carpet Making Process
The several steps involved in Carpet making process is explained below:
Tibetan sheep wool comes in the form of raw wool. Pure white wool and other impurities are separated to get the best white wool which is hand washed in spring water.
Carding is the process of combing and cleaning the wool. Since wool is the basic raw material for carpet making, it should be fine and clean.
In an effective carding, no fiber is intermingled with another and all foreign particles and dirt are removed. This helps in spinning, blending and wool mixing if necessary. Nowadays, carding is also done using machines.
After carding, the wool fibers are drawn and twisted to make yarns of desired thickness. This process is called spinning.
The yarn of soft 5-7 twist per inch is said to be ideal for carpets. Spinning is a traditional skill of Tibetan people so generally wool is spun by hands. Hand spinning brings the best yarn for Tibetan carpets for its elasticity and strength.
The wool can be dyed either using natural vegetable dyes or synthetic ones since both have a good and adverse effect. Using natural dyes is more complicated and the colors obtained is not that brilliant, but it promotes special textures of carpets.
In another hand, synthetic dyes give bright colors with various shades easily, which is not possible in natural dyes. So that commonly azo-free chemical dyes are used. The natural dyes are also used as per clients demand.
The entire weaving work is carried out by hand with the traditional Tibetan knotting system on a vertical loom. It is a creative task, which is performed by three or four weavers according to the size of the carpet. Carpet weaving is done with the help of yarn balls, scissors, iron-rod, levers, comb beater, etc.
The sharp design & pattern is carved out by scissors from the woven carpet. It is a very delicate process because one false cut can ruin the whole carpet.
After a carpet is trimmed it is then washed with fresh water using household chemicals to keep free of germs, remove dirt and restore the original shine of the wool. The carpet is then dried out in the sun for 4-5 days.
After washing and drying, the carpets are stretched from all four sides using metal frames and hooks. It helps in maintaining the perfect square shape of the carpet.
The carpet should be trimmed again to remove unusual yarn. After vacuum cleaning, it is packed with environment-friendly packing materials. Now the carpet is ready to be shipped.
Finally, the carpet is packed with the environment-friendly packing material after which the carpet is ready for export.