History and origin of Tibetan Carpet Production in Nepal
Tibetan Carpets were specially made by mother upon the birth of a baby girl for Hundreds of years. This carpet and the knowledge of weaving was considered the birth of a girl. The history of Tibetan rug making dates back to some fifteen hundred years but a typical piece from that date is virtually nonexistent lately.
Researchers around the world believe that the origin of Tibetan Carpet weaving was presumably evolved indigenously and in isolation, dating as far back as 7th Century A. D, as evidenced by excavations done around the trade route.
This explains the unique weaving technique and physical structure of Tibetan Carpet weaving, distinct from that of neighboring China and India, additionally as from other extant weaving traditions worldwide.
Specifically, it’s the utilization of archaic vertical loom and therefore the peculiar archaic knotting technique. Rugs in Tibet historically were practical, everyday objects, woven locally to be used in homes and monasteries where they might over time wear out and be discarded.
There have been also no such royal collections or elaborate burial customs by which the rugs would have been preserved over an extended period. Furthermore, there was no tradition for exporting the rugs to the surface world. The antique Tibetan carpets that we see within the market lately usually go back to the late 1700s to the mid-1900s.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Tibetan Refugees and Tibetan Carpets
- 2 - Tibetan Carpets Made in Nepal
- 3 - What are Tibetan Carpets made up of?
- 4 - How are Tibetan Carpets Made?
- 5 - Unique Knotting System in Tibetan Carpets
Tibetan Refugees and Tibetan Carpets
Tibetan refugees started crossing the Himalayan home in April 1959, within the wake of the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile and landed mostly in Nepal and India.
In Tibet carpets historically were practical, everyday objects, woven locally to be used in homes and monasteries where they might over time wear out and be discarded.
There are also no such royal collections or elaborate burial customs by which the rugs would have been preserved over an extended period. Furthermore, there was no tradition for exporting the rugs to the surface world. The antique Tibetan carpets that we see within the market lately usually go back to the late 1700s to the mid-1900s.
Tibetan Carpets Made in Nepal
In the context of today, Tibetan Carpets are mostly made in Nepal. Today the Tibetan and Nepal rugs are showing off more modern designs and are usually made according to designs commissioned by Westerners or Europeans.
This is also because of the outstanding value of carpets considering all the work that goes into creating the masterpiece. And because of the fine fibers like natural silk and Nepalese wool that’s utilized in their creation. They’re highly durable and admired remarkable beauty and fine knotting as they are handmade.
The influence of other cultures is reflected within the motifs and colors employed by today’s Tibetan and Nepalese artisans. The oldest elements are rooted in Tibet’s ancient shamanistic culture.
The introduction of Buddhism from India within the 8th century had a huge impact on imagery in Tibetan carpet alongside close ties with China and Mongolia. Traces of textile design from Bhutan and Nepal also are very apparent.
what are Tibetan Carpets made up of?
Tibetan carpet making is one of the traditional ancient crafts. Those carpets are traditionally made from Tibetan Highland sheep’s wool called changpen. As it is made of pure sheep wool and some plant fibers, It possesses an exquisite look.
How are Tibetan Carpets Made?
There are some steps involved in making Tibetan-Nepali Carpets:
Step1: Wool sorting and washing
The Sheep’s wool needs to be cleaned of foreign matter that could have been stuck to the sheep as this could prevent the die from sticking.
Step 2: Carding
This process is done so that it breaks the wool fibers down and allow it to be spun. This can be done by hand or by machine, although the former leads to a better texture and is what his factory uses.
Step 3: Spinning
The wool is spun on spinning wheels (charikas) by hand into yarn.
Step 4: Dying
The wool can be dyed by machines or by hand through pot dying to give wool beautiful colors.
Step 5: Drying
Then, the wool is dried in the sun to set the colors after dying them.
Step 6: Knotting
Firstly a sketch is made and 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, may 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 also the quality of carpets depends on the knots made.
Step 7: Trimming
After knotting is done, then the carpet is cut along the edges of where colors meet within the rug, to make the design stand out more. Step 8: Washing The carpets are washed with water and chemicals and left to dry again so that the color sets and it exactly looks the same even after a hundred years.
Step 9: Stretching
Since washing causes shrinkage, therefore the carpets are stretched on a rack to make them as straight as possible, and to return them to the original size. Glue is also applied on the back of the rugs as they dry to hold them in shape.
Step 10: Finishing
The carpet gets final touch, by trimming it again.
Unique Knotting System in Tibetan Carpets
One of the secrets of Tibetan history is the origin of the essential knotting technique that is used to create Tibetan carpets.
In most of Asia, either Turkish knot or the Persian knot (Senneh knot) is employed to make the pile or depth of a carpet, but Tibetan weavers utilize the Tibetan knot; where rugs are woven by wrapping a continues length of yarn over a rod laid across the warps stretched on the loom.
When the rod will be wrapped for its entire length, a knife is slid along the rod, cutting the wrapped yarn into two rows of pile tuft.
The same loop is found in 1500-year-old carpet remains in Egypt by researchers. The rug makers in Scandinavia still use a version of that knot.
No other cultures are known to use the Tibetan knot. Whether the Tibetan knot was developed independently in Tibet or was adopted from another culture is unknown.
Tibet is geographically very isolated but it’s always maintained outside ties by trade routes through the mountains.
Even Today Nepalese Tibetan Knots are unique in the knotting systems. It has a density of knots. The texture of carpets differs from the quality and nature of the material. Carpets are made in both double and single knotting system.