In Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, for example, it is typical for the master weaver at the loom, to chant out rhythmically, the specific color to be woven at a precise moment. Harmonious sound and motion create a spiritual reverence akin to a religious ceremony.
The apparent effortless way in which the knots are formed is deceiving to the untrained eye.
Knots are tied individually by hand around two warp threads, followed by a flick of the hook knife to separate the trailing yarn. Despite appearances to the contrary, the forming of the knots is not arbitrary, the action is precise and exact.
A practiced, skilled master weaver can tie upwards of thirty knots per minute, although accuracy, rather than pace is the ultimate objective.
When seen in slow motion, it is easy to see why the formation of a single knot requires dexterity and concentration. However, because nimble fingers repeat the action correctly thousands of times, it is as much about feel as it is sight as the procedure becomes second nature.
Tying the knot to the rugs foundation is what differentiates hand-made carpets from any other type of rug.
Machine made rugs merely pass the thread through or glue it to the base. Moreover, they are “hand made” for reasons of necessity, as much as aesthetics. This may also explain the durability and longevity enjoyed by a hand knotted rug; the pile remaining intact until the foundation becomes worn through.
Man in all his wisdom, has yet to invent a machine that is able to tie a knot on a rug!
Between every row of knots, a weft string, usually made of either cotton or wool is horizontally threaded through alternate warp strings. Although its primary purpose is to keep the knots in place, the packing down of the knots row after row actually forms the direction of the pile. On a vertical loom, the pile always faces downwards.
The essential design of the carpet is carried in the pile. After several rows have been completed the excess wool is trimmed off and the creative cycle begins again.
Large quality rugs, often take considerable time to produce.
A 9 x 12 rug may take four weavers up to a year to complete.
More info on the weaving process coming soon in our next rug making journey blog post!