Nepalese Carpet: Tradition and Modernity
Carpet manufacturing has, in the from of Radi, Pakhi, been the traditional business of the village in the northern mountainous belt of Nepal already since medieval time. However, commercial carpet manufacturing began only in 1959 through financial & technical support to the Tibetan refugees by Swiss Association for Technical Assistance (SATA). Started in the beginning as a source of living for the Tibetan refugees and items for tourist consumption, it gradually began to attract a consumer abroad. Since 1964, Nepal has been doing commercial shipment of carpet to Europe, particularly Switzerland.
Carpet Production is manually done right from the very beginning to the finishing stage. The vital process includes:
Wool sorting & Washing: At first the imported wool is sorted to make it stable and then it is washed toremove the fat & wax from the wool. The wool is then dried in sunlight from two three days.
Carding: Carding was used to be performed by hand previously. As hand carding couldn't fulfill the expanding carpet industries, machine is being used for this very purpose.
Spinning: Wool is still spun by hand Charkha. The experienced Nepalese spinners are capable of producing coarse as well as finer yarns for both lower and higher knot carpets.
Dyeing: Dyeing was also used to be carried out in huge copper vessels previously. But with the introduction of machine dyeing, better fastness has been obtained. Also the use of synthetic dyestuffs has provided a large scale of spectrumcolour. The yarn is dried in the sun light after dyeing.
Weaving: Carpet weaving is performed by hand using graphs & sketches. The carpet weaving is a creative task, which is performed by three or four laborers according to the size of the carpet. Carpet weaving is done with the help of woolen yarn balls, scissors, iron-rod levers, comb better, etc. Tibetan double knotting system is applied for knotting.
Trimming: The exact design & pattern are carved out by using special scissors from the woven carpets. The thickness of the pile is also made smooth according to the design.
Washing and Drying: Carpet is washed to wipe out the glommy appearance. After washing, the carpet is then dried out in the sunlight for 4-5days.
Strecting: The Carpet has to be strected to bring in to the original loom-stage size by strecthing. Stretching is done for protecting the carpet from being under sized or twisted.
Final Trimming: The carpet has given a final trimming of the unusual yarn. In this case any error in the design & pattern is trimmed and given the final touch.
Packing: Finally the carpet is packed with the environment friendly packing material before it is ready for export
Nepalese carpets have made outstanding improvement in their design since the late 80's. In the past, six traditional designs were used as the basic design in weaving carpets. Nowadays many new variations have appeared by manipulating the traditional designs by mixing bright colors and with floral presentations.
The modern designs have made the feel & looks of Nepalese carpets quite sophisticated from that traditional Tibetan ones but virtually combination of per-existing motifs, thus are new withour loosing thier traditional value. The modern Nepalese-Tibetan carpets of 60's knots have a high density of above 56,000 knots/sq.mt. and weight ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 kg. 100's knot carpets instead have a density above 1,25,000 knots/sq.mt and weight ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 kg.
The major characteristics of carpet design includes:
Color Variations:The Nepalese dyers & colorists have shown great skills in combination of colours. Previously, the carpets used to include onlu three/four color schemes by combining different shades & tones of the same color. Nowadays, the experienced Nepalese have created more than 50 different shades using primitive vegetable dyes. In addition, Nepalese dyers have also introduced synthetic dyes according to the demand of the buyers.
Nowadays, dyes from Ciba, Geigy, Sandoz, BASF etc. are used for brilliant presentation and attractive leveling
Use of Raw Material: Keeping in mind the customer's demand, 100% silk, 100% hemp & their blends are also used raw material for Nepalese carpets. Also cotton blends with wool has been used these days Nepalese manufacturers have also been blending the finest wool and also Pashmina wool to produce carpets of fine quality.
Knot Variations: Nepalese-Tibetan carpets are unique in knotting system because they have high density of knots. The felling & texture of knotted carpets very with the quality & nature of the material used and the no. of knots/sq.per inch. As they are produced in double knotting system, they are softer, thicker & of rather flexible wool constructions as compared to most personal & Turkish carpets. The best quality Nepalese carpets have a tighter and denser weaving technique and a thicker, deeper pile with excellent resiliency.
Previously, Nepalese carpets was confirmed to 60 knots (60 knots/sq.inch) only. But with the diversification of market, 70,80,100 & 100 knots quality carpets are being produced. Also super 60's (finer then 60), super 80 knots (finer then 80 knots) carpet quality are also in demand, the finest one i.e. rugs are of 180 knots quality
Image, Shape and size: Basically, Buddhism influences the image based on traditional design patterns of Nepalese- Tibetan carpet. But, in recent years, the Nepalese manufactures have introduced modern design, sizes & shapes as per the choice of market. Besides, traditional sizes are long rectangular type with narrow width. But, manufacturers nowadays are producing large carpet capable of covering wall to wall. Circular & Octagonal carpets are also produced as per customer's demand.
Quality Control of Raw Material
For maintaining the quality of world class woolen carpet, the Nepalese government authority regulates the import of wool from Tibet & also from the third countries like New Zealand, Australia dn Britian for ensuring the best quality of wool. The wool obtained from New Zealand is pre-inspected by concerned authorities in New Zealand for faciliating the export of the wool type 128 with Staple Length 4-6 inches. Besides, the following specifications of quality wool have been maintained:
Quality of Carpet
Nepal produces varieties of quality carpets, which include