Tibet has maintained a unique culture, language and religion for centuries. The culture is not only limited to the country's borders but has been accepted globally. Tibet has a long and rich history as a nation existing side-by-side with China. In 1913, the 13th Dalai Lama issued a proclamation reaffirming Tibet’s independence and the country maintained its own national flag, currency, stamps, passports and army. However, post-China’s invasion in 1950, tens and thousands of Tibetians fled into exile in India. Ever since 1959, China’s government has exercised total political control over Tibet, using all the tools of repression.
Tibet is widely celebrated for its diverse forms of art and these artworks are the finest examples of detail, elegance and luxury. One of the most renowned art forms is the Tibetian art of carpet-making. It is a traditional ancient craft and are usually made up of highland sheep’s wool called 'changpen'.
Over the years with the rise of functional and tranquil interior design styles, Tibetan carpets are the new choice of interior designers. Often confused with Persian hand-knotted rugs, Tibetan carpets and rugs are rich in lanolin and softer than the Persian rugs.
Who manufactures Tibetian rugs?
For years, Tibetans and people across the world have used Tibetian carpets for decorative and functional purposes. Famous for its design, geometric patterns, auspicious symbols, real and mythical animals, and usage of various colours, these carpets can also be carriers of encrypted messages.
Craftspersons from Tibet and parts of Nepal sell these handwoven carpets across the world. The final pieces are rich in Lanolin- a wax that is secreted by the sebaceous glands of the Himalayan sheep that also keeps the water on the surface. This is also one of the prime reasons why these carpets are extremely soft. The hand-weaving technique used for these carpets makes them more durable than the one weaved in machines.
A Tibetan rug with 150 knots square per inch is counted as one of the high-quality rugs which are long-lasting and durable. To enhance the durability, the number of knots can go up to 300. The art of rug-making in Tibet is more than 1,000 years old and today the craftspersons have created a wide market of customizable carpets, where a buyer can decide the pattern and colour schemes. In the recent past, the Nepalese carpets industry is taking the global carpet industry by storm.
The mystery of Tibetian designs
Apart from reflecting the Tibetian and neighbouring Chinese cultures, these carpets are a reflection of the craftsmen’s mindset. Carpet making was essentially folk art, but there is more to it than that. The designs weaved on the carpets had a function, purpose and depth to them. Tibetan carpet making can turn out to be one of the most prolific indigenous design traditions in the world. Most of the Tibetian designs are filled with refreshing colours and to lighten minds the colours are combined with patterns of good omen. Over the years, this became an endless theme in wool.
How to take care of a Tibetian knot rug?
Usually, woollen carpets are easiest to clean as the natural animal fibres used are non-absorbent, repels stains, and dry quickly. Wool keeps a sheep warm and dry in all weather especially, Tibetan sheep as they live at high altitudes and have the highest content of lanolin. The fine handmade, hand-dyed wool carpets should be vacuumed atleast once a week. Usage of any stiff brush rotation should be avoided as it will eventually tear up the carpet fibres and fringe.
In case of stains, one can blot with a paper towel, then wipe or blot again with a wet cloth. Use more water and a bit of soap if the stain is heavier.