Handmade rugs and carpets from Pakistan, also known as oriental rugs are famous for their durability and intricate designs. These are handwoven by artisans from Pakistan, hardworking weavers, who have perfected their craft. Not only are the designs exquisite, but they are durable and less expensive than the Persian carpets. They are made from wool yarns from New Zealand and Australia. These rugs come in all shapes and sizes, there are runner rugs, antique rugs, and small or large rugs.
In short, you can use these rugs for any space, from your office to your bedroom. They bring such coziness and a classic look to the setting that is just fantastic. Join me on a tour of the exquisite handmade rugs and carpets from Pakistan.
History of Handmade Rugs and Carpets from Pakistan
This art traces back its origin to the ancient times when Moenjodaro and Harappa were still thriving cities in the Indus Valley civilization. Many years later when these cities were dug out, they found tools like spindles and other material that implied the craftsmanship of weaving. Later it was known that these cities and its inhabitants had a charm for the rugs and carpets. Some historians even believe that this art was first developed there.
The Mughal Carpets as the Successor of Pakistani Carpets
India likely had no indigenous carpet weaving tradition before the arrival of the Muslim conquerors. The Mughals, who traced their lineage to the Mongol dynasties in Iran and Central Asia, soon established weaving workshops at their courts. It is said that when Babar came to India, he was disappointed by the lack of luxuries. He missed the luxuries of Persia, which included the Persian carpet and thus Akbar laid the foundation of carpet weaving tradition in India, in 1580 AD at his palace in Agra. Akbar established carpet weaving centers at Agra, Delhi, and Lahore. Persian artisans were employed and it is for this reason that the early Mughal carpets utilize largely Persian designs.
Thus, it was in the Mughal period when this art gained its currency. Under the patronage of the Mughals, whose rule extended from Kabul to Dhaka, the local craftsmen used a variety of techniques and styles. Shah Jahan, the 17th-century Indian ruler who built the Taj Mahal, has always been considered an important patron of architecture. What is less known is that he was also a great patron of Indian carpets. He popularized this art, under whose reign it gained a new dimension, and the word made its way to the whole of Asia and even abroad. There was a high demand for them at a time in history.
The Social and Cultural Value of Carpets in the Islamic World
The art of carpet making in Mughal India was not just an economic activity. It was linked to royal taste, social practice, and aesthetics of the Islamic world. The carpet was not just an object to keep an area warm, but it carried a social and cultural meaning. It was often given as a gift to noble people or people of high credentials. They were ornate works of art that indicated the status and wealth of their owners.
They used to have court carpets which were used on the floors in reception halls, audience chambers, and at court-supported religious institutions. Rulers had access to expensive materials, such as silk and metal-wrapped threads. These rulers employed the most highly skilled designers and weavers in their empires to create enormous and luxurious carpets. Court carpets are among the finest examples of art from the Islamic world because of their quality and design.
Types of Pakistani Rugs
Pakistani Bokhara Rugs
Bokhara is the name of a tribe that came from a region in Central Asia. These rugs resemble something like the ancient Tekke tribal rugs. The looks of a Pakistan Bokhara rug are very distinctive and dominated by clear cut rows of geometric patterns on a solid background color, generally in jewel tones. Mostly there are heavily ornamental borders in vibrant colors and the pile will vary depending upon the particular rug and weaver. They are velvety and blanket-like in texture.
The shorter-term for Pakistani Persian rugs is “Pak Persian.” These rugs have curved floral designs. They are known for the repeated patterns of floral arrangements. Pak Persian rugs are woven with Senneh, a highly valued Persian knot. As they are quite intricate so they have a higher number of knots than the rest. Some of the well known Persian designs include Kashan, Kerman, Isfahan, and Tabriz.
Pakistani Jaldar Carpets
Jaldar rugs have their roots in Sarooq and Yamoud’s designs. These rugs use symmetrical knotting and have a silk-like feel. Based on a cotton foundation Jaldars can be confused with Bokharas because of the similarities in the designs. The difference between the two lies mainly with the guls (flowers) used which are more angular and diamond-shaped in the Jaldar rugs while the Bokhara rugs are more similar to the Turkmen rugs with rounder guls.
Balochi rugs come from Balochistan in Pakistan which is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of area. The rugs from this region are different from any other because of their colors. There are usually bright colors which are put unexpectedly together. In Balochistan, there are still many craftsmen who weave this rug, which is a specificity of this region, by hand.
Chobi Ziegler Rug
The word Chobi has a Persian origin and it means wood. The reason that these rugs are known by this name is that natural dyes are used in manufacturing them. It was originally developed in Turkey under the concept of Ziegler carpets. These rugs have other names like Oushak or Peshawari rugs. These rugs are famous in the western world also, specifically North America. They are developed in Lahore and its weaving centers are set in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan where they are mostly produced for the North American market.
These rugs are dyed using natural sources such as hand-gathered roots, nutshells, tree barks, vegetable skins, and dried flowers. Like the Pakistani Chobi rugs, Gabbeh rugs also have large geometric floral patterns. As such, this type of Pakistani rug is the most labor-intensive. They are lanolin-rich luster, which is famous to be fade-proof and long-lasting.
These are some of the most expensive rugs because they are made purely from sheep wool. Not just any sheep wool but wool especially from sheep belly. Mainly they are available in blue, black, or deep red. They are made with finely-spun wool and knotted into intricate geometric patterns with complex borders.
Originally Heriz rugs are from an area of the same name in Iran. Heriz carpets are durable and hard-wearing and they can last for generations. Although naturally colored, they make use of commercially farmed dyes making it less labor-intensive. It is also made of the sunnah knot. The rug weavers often make them in geometric, bold patterns with a large medallion dominating the field. Such designs are traditional and often woven from memory.
Khan Mamdi carpets have their roots in the regional nomadic tribal culture. They were knotted with naturally dyed handspun yarn in the past, but today they are almost entirely knotted from commercially-produced dye and machine-spun wool. These rugs stand out for their bold geometric and stylistically floral designs in rusts, reds, blues, and greens.
This carpet has a very interesting history because of its relationship with a tribe. So these carpets are named after the tribe which used to make these rugs called Qashqai. According to history, the Qashqai people come from Chinese Turkestan sweeping across Afghanistan into Persia. In Persia, the Qashqai chose to live in the mountainous region of Azerbaijan, in the Caucasus.
On the local level, a strong sense of community exists between the Qashqai people, and this communal bond is extended into the Qashqai carpet weaving process. Up to a half dozen Pakistani women artisans often work on a single antique carpet at a time. As their fingers tie an endless array of tiny knots, they talk, laugh, and sing together.
A woman will work on her own rug for a period of time, move over to the loom of her neighbor, and then to that of yet another friend, before returning to her own weaving. So much for history.
Now something about how these carpets look like. Hence, the prominent color of these rugs is a deep blue. This blue, however, is accompanied by many other colors that you would find unexpected in a hand-knotted carpet. Their wool is hand-spun using a spinning wheel. Coupled with a senna knot construction, Qashqais can be quite intricate in their designs.
They are flat-weave carpets and therefore do not have a pile like the rest of other carpet types. These carpets are in a vertical loom woven using a unique technique called the wrap wrapping method. Their wool is naturally dyed using both hand-gathered natural dyes and more commercially-farmed natural dyes like cochineal and indigo. They also spotlight the natural wool colors.
Share Handmade Rugs and Carpets from Pakistan
Do not forget to share Handmade Rugs and Carpets from Pakistan with your social media followers and friends. A Pakistani rug or carpet would be a very welcomed gift and you might just give them a great idea by sharing.