14 September 2014

Kashmiri carpets

On the way back from Dachigam National Park, near Srinagar, Aijaz took me to visit his uncle's cooperative crafts enterprise (Paradise Crafts, Nishat, Srinagar). Mukhtar's operation sells handcrafts on behalf of thousands of home operations, and among the foremost of these crafts are Kashmir's famous hand-knotted carpets.

Mukhtar explained the process of producing these carpets and what determines their quality. The three most important determinants are the density of knotting (the more knots per square inch, the higher the quality -- top carpets have the astonishing density of 800-900 knots per square inch); the number of colours; and the intricacy of the pattern. Many of these carpets take years to manufacture, even with several people working on them. Some of these I found stunningly beautiful.

But the difference between carpets with, say, 400 knots per square inch and those with 700-800 is immediately obvious. That's the problem -- having seen and touched a top quality carpet you're unlikely to be satisfied with one of lower quality, and even considering that the price includes DHL couriering anywhere in the world, that they'll only appreciate in value, and that a purchase supports a local family, the smallest and least expensive are still several hundred US dollars, so buying one of these isn't a decision to make lightly.

Sadly, the skill of creating these carpets seems to be slowly dying out as young people turn to more lucrative opportunities and those with the skill age.

If you do want to find out more about Mukhtar's co-op, feel free to contact me.

All content © 2014 Pete McGregor


Elephant's Child said...

They are incredible things, and I agree with you about the difference in knottage. Having seen, and touched the better ones the others are pale shadows... On a dollars per hour basis they are even cheap - assuming that one has the necessary funds. And no, I didn't.

Zhoen said...

Not that kind of money, here, either. But I can dream.

pohanginapete said...

EC, yes, the hourly rate is cheap, and that's why the skill's slowly dying out. Easier and more lucrative to do something else.

Zhoen, dreaming's all I can afford, too. I guess in some things I have expensive taste.