Nepalese Rug Weaving History
The area rug weaving tradition of Nepal started in 1959 when approximately 15,000 Tibetan refugees fled their country and re-established themselves in Nepal. It was the master weavers of Gyantse, who were from the best rug making area of Tibet that taught the Nepalese the necessary weaving skills so they themselves could eventually become master weavers. Area rug weaving quickly became an industry throughout Nepal, especially in the Kathmandu Valley. Today, 95% of Nepal’s area rug industry in located there.
Nepal, today, is still a developing nation with more than 75% of its population lacking formal education. The rug weaving industry is one of the main fields where both men and women can earn a living with only a few months training. Rug weaving is a very important industry in Nepal as it creates viable jobs in underprivileged areas.
Nepalese Rugs – The Knot
The Tibetan knotting technique is unique in the world and completely different from the Persian and Turkish knot.
Nepalese rugs are woven on simple vertical looms on which the warp (the vertical threads that form part of the skeleton of the rug, usually cotton) is wound. The pile of the rug is created by looping yarn around two warp threads, and then around a guide rod that lies perpendicular to the warp. The looping continues until the end of a row is reached. Once a row is completed, the rod is hammered tight against the row below. The weaver then cuts along the rod with a very sharp knife, cutting open the pile. The rod is removed and the row is beaten down against the previous row once again. Then two or three weft threads are inserted along the top of the row, the weaver slides the metal rod back in above the weft, and a new row is started.
This knot is known as a Senna Loop. Rug weaving in central and east Asia use the Persian or Turkish knotting, in which each knot is tied, trimmed, and packed before the next one is started, resulting in knots that are square, elongated and continuous. Senna loops are tied off only when the weaver changes color or reaches the end of a row. These days many weaving combinations such as loop/cut, higher pile/lower pile, silk/wool and natural fiber/wool are used in weaving Nepalese rugs and they are gaining popularity.
Nepalese Rug Characteristics
All Nepalese area rugs are made using a hand knotted technique and hand spun woolen yarn. They use both indigenous wool and New Zealand wool and all wool must meet regulatory and strict industry standards resulting in only top quality fleece being used in the construction of their area rugs. Dyes used for the rug’s colors are fast and health friendly. The construction of the rug is still made in the traditional ways taught by the Tibetans. The wool is carded and spun by hand, the weaving is completed by skilled artisans, and all finishing work is completed by hand. The trimmers may work up to a week trimming each rug to ensure that it attains the highest possible quality. After the trimming is completed, the rugs are washed with natural herbs & water to fix the colors and give shine to the rugs. The rugs are then are dried in the open sun and air. Once dried completely they are once more trimmed and cleaned before packing.
Nepalese Rug Qualities
Nepalese area rugs contain a very high degree of hand processing and the number of knots range from 40 to 150 knots per square inch. Their unique Senna loop knot creates a thicker, denser and more lustrous pile than what one would see in other regions area rugs. The colors of Nepalese rugs are deep and rich. The pure Himalayan highland wool that is used also has unique characteristics. The sheep from the Himalayan plains are adapted to the harsh climate by growing wool that consists of long fiber, exceptional durability, and softness and have a remarkable lustrous quality. Area rugs made from this wool actually grow more beautiful as time passes by developing a silk-like sheen with age and use.
Then end result is a beautiful modern design hand knotted area rug that has exceptional value and durability.