Day 53: Carpets

It’s the warmest addition to any room. And I totally intend on getting a few for our new place! When pets are a part of the household, most people want to avoid carpets – unless you have nothing against a dirty, smelly carpet then keep one for you pup to occasionally soil.

Of course, it is not a floor enhancing surface – more like that part of home that needs regular cleaning! Well, for me – I feel a bit distraught when I see people not knowing anything about Indian uniqueness when it comes to weaving designs, maintaining its reputation in the world. Most think of weaving restricted to saree. But truth be told – people barely know much about Indian carpet traditions. Albeit inspired by Persian rugs, it didn’t take long for India to add its artistic patterns to rugs.

I read recently that carpets from the 15th century India were mostly made of silk and wool (much like Persian rugs), while displaying elements rich in art and materials showcasing prosperity of India during middle-ages. Vegetable dyed and hand knotted, made for Shahs and Rajahs, and smaller prayer mats for Brahmins (don’t get started on caste system – truth be told it is blown way out of proportion and exploited from around early 12th Century – for in reality it was mainly a class system. And yes, I find it rather classist when I see disparity of caste system and I do condemn it as it stands in modern India).

In my family, as a Brahmin tradition – after the sacred thread ceremony (for boys) and celebration of first menstruation (for girls), we still receive a prayer/meditation rug. Handwoven. Most of the time handwoven. And I still find this tradition quite amazing. As it is not just the men of the family being celebrated for puberty but women as well. Perhaps a prayer/meditation mat sounds alarming to some – but I find that perfectly fine as long as it is not expected to be used rigorously. That’s the difference between education and blind faith.

At times when India is either going ultra modern (shunning tradition and going for the “American dream” as trends) or ultra conservative (going full blown Hinduist, with hyper nationalistic stance, using half informed Vedic texts instrumentalised to create fear and assert presumptions) – I feel that a more middle ground with (well informed) appreciation for Indian arts and it’s diversity (with respect to various influences over centuries) needs to be showcased. Owning up the massive contribution of Vedic, Mughals, British, French, Portuguese, etc. influences that has created this unique blend of arts, culture and practices in India – should be celebrated rather than lost in extremist positions.

Perhaps a reason why I find carpets fascinating. From Brahmin prayer rugs, Tibetan crafts, Kashmiri woollen (hand knotted or machine made) to Murshidabad silk… Amritsar, Jaipur, Agra or Mirzapur rugs, carpets are just a piece of accessible art/design (with an outstanding testament of time) at home.

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