Nights of my weekend goes in reading about the traditional handicrafts of India.
Tonight, I read about the craft of knotted carpets “Kaleen” from Kashmir.
Kashmir’s location on the Silk Route of Central Asia ensured a steady stream of artistic and cultural interaction with various trading communities – Persian, Chinese and Mediterranean who passed through it.
Kaleen are produced in many districts like Baramula, Anantnag, Badgam, Kupwara, Doda, Ponch and Srinagar.
The Kaleen are intricately hand-knotted silk or woollen carpets woven
on a vertical loom through a process of wrapping a supplementary weft
around successive warps,
creating a heavy durable fabric with a soft pile surface of short lengths of fine wool or silk.
A carpet with a central medallion surrounded by a matan, a field,
in turn enclosed by several borders.
The patterns depicting fantastic animal forms and the pictorial carpets with elaborate hunting scenes are from the period of Akbar’s rule while the carpets with patterns of scrolling vines and highly naturalistic plant and animals forms are from the bequest of Jehangir’s patronage.
Even at that early stage, some specifically Indian motifs were added to
the craftsmen’s vocabulary.
A medallion carpet with chothai and elliptical forms known as chand in the central field.
Other patterns which were inspired by the Persian Chahar Bagh, Garden of Paradise,
layout and the medallion form were fashioned and
these latter types have now come to be identified as the quintessentially Kashmiri patterns.
The mihrab, arch motif indicates that this floral carpet is either a prayer rug or that it is a derivative of the quanat, the screens of Mughal emperor’s tent.
We all buy Kaleen’s for our home, but how much do we know about the motifs or the design philosophy behind every Kaleen.
Here’s a basic structure of a Kaleen (Carpet)
Tools used :
* Kaleen vaan : Vertical loom
* Khur – Sickle-shaped blade
* Panja – beater
* Dukari – scissors
Carpet weaving skills (including that of reading the talim -the pattern chart that plots the number of knots to be woven in the same colour)
were transmitted through the ustaad-shagird, master-apprentice system.
As the apprenticeship traditionally began at the age of six, this practice is now largely discontinued due to the ban on child labour.