Traditional Tibetan Carpet Making Process
Tibetans use the 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.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Steps involved in Tibetan Carpet Making Process
- 2 - Tool and Raw Materials used in Carpet Making Process
- 3 - How to Take Care of your Tibetan Carpet?
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.
The raw wool Himalayan breed of sheep is raised by the nomads at an altitude of 16,000 ft.
The wool is sorted according to its shade, dark, and light.
Before proceeding further the wool is washed and dried, utilizing a process that doesn’t involve any detergent or chemicals.
Once the wool washing process is over, wet wool is dried in sunlight.
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 are not that brilliant, but it promotes special textures of carpets.
On the other 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 wool is then dried in the sun, which makes working during the monsoon season very difficult.
Knotting and Weaving
Before beginning the knotting, a sketch of the design is created as a template on a grid, with each box representing one knot.
The knotting period, since it is done by hand, can take many months. Carpets come in three main levels of quality, 60 knots per square inch, 80 knots per square inch or 100 knots per square inch.
Finished carpets can have 500,000 knots overall, each painstakingly knotted by hand.
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.
Rug Drying in Sunlight
After rugs are knotted from the loom, they are brought to the cutting & clipping department, where experienced artisans clears the pattern & trim the pile with the help of scissors to get the right color & effect for each design.
After the trimming & clipping process, finished rugs are taken to the washing plot where rugs are washed manually by using filtered water & environment-friendly detergent. Once the washing process is over, rugs are dried up in day sunlight.
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 the 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 environment-friendly packing material after which the carpet is ready for export.
Tool and Raw Materials used in Carpet Making Process
There are various materials and tools that are used to make Tibetan Carpets.
The basic material for Tibetan rugs and carpet is wool. The wool is the soul of the rug.
It is used as a foundation for the carpet. Normally Cotton
Drop spindle (wool spindles)
is used to weave the carpet.
Used to hammer the knots after every row is finished. It helps to make the knots stay pack and gives perfect shape to it.
The knife is used to cut the woolen tread while weaving.
Long Pointed Scissors
The Scissors are used in the trimming process.
How to Take Care of your Tibetan Carpet?
Proper care can ensure that our rugs will last for years to come.
Basic care & cleaning instructions include:
- Do not use any kind of harsh brush to clean the rugs. Instead, vacuum regularly to prevent dust & crumbs from setting into the roots of the pile.
- Turn the rug around occasionally to equalize wear.
- Remove the spill immediately. Blot with clean, un-dyed cloth by pressing firmly around the spill to absorb as much as possible.
- Expose the rug to the sun sometimes if it gets wet.
- Occasionally an individual strand can come loose, do not pull on this strand, as you will ruin the integrity of the rug. Use a pair of scissors to trim & even the pile.
- For hard to remove stains on hand-knotted rugs, professional rug cleaning is recommended.