Kashmir is famous the world over for the beautiful hand-woven Cashmere Rug that it produces. Basically cashmere rugs are brought to India by the Muslim invaders; cashmere rug weaving is strongly reflective of Persian motifs and styling.The cashmere rugs are made predominantly in the Srinagar area of Kashmir, and generally confined to the men of the family although, nowadays, women are also entering the trade.
These exquisite creations are hand-knotted on warp threads, one at a time, in accordance to a strict code of colors and in the order of their appearance in the pattern. Often the code is lyricized into a song, which is hummed by the knitters at the time of weaving. The cashmere rug is is clipped with shears to make them smooth and then treated with several brightening and protective chemical washes. A relatively simple cashmere rug 4 feet by 6 feet would take 3 to 4 months to complete. The motifs are generally floral or animals and birds. The History of the cashmere rugs starts in the early fifteenth century. According to early records of Kashmir history, King Zain-ul- Abeedin, better known in Kashmir as Badshah, brought master cashmere rugs weavers from Persia to train the local craftsmen of the Kashmir valley, who already were master weavers of famous cashmere textile, better known as cashmere Jamavar, cashmere Pashmina and shahtoosh shawls.
Badshah introduced the assembly line system into Karkhana’s (factories) for weaving, clipping and washing of cashmere rugs in the 15th century. Because of his personal interest in the development of this industry in Kashmir the cashmere rugs industry flourished during Badshah’s reign. Originally from the down undercoat of the Asiatic goat (Capra hircus laniger) cashmere fibers now also come from 68 breeds of goats in 12 countries, which are classified as cashmere because of a fiber diameter of under 19 microns.
The industry suffered badly after this period and its revival came only during the time of Mughals.
However, in the mid 18th century the Dogra’s ruled Kashmir. Maharaja Ranbir Singh, the ruler of the time, showed keen interest in the development of carpet industry in Kashmir and it is in his period we see a lot of development in the carpet Industry in terms of quality and production. The cashmere rugs became valuable gifts from one King to another and have been found in almost all the palaces in Central Asia.
In the early 19th century, the Cashmere rugs caught the attention of the west, and it was highly valued among the world’s best rug weaving regions. Cashmere rug weaving in the valley got a fresh lease on life when European companies like The East India Co. and C & M Hador, established karkhana’s in the valley and began exporting cashmere rugs to Europe & America.
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