Yusuf and Pervez roll out a typical red Kashmiri Mughal silk carpet (a tradition brought to Kashmir by Badshah Zainulabidin), which they had begun weaving during Srinagar’s autumn season and finished it nine months later. These carpets bore the motifs of birds, animals and hunters, and mostly that of the Valley’s exquisite flowers and its natural beauty. Many of these beautifully woven carpets are often known as Maharaja carpets since they were commissioned by Maharajas and Nawabs and are found today within the precincts of their descendants or in museums. While some of these carpets replicated the Persian Qum, Hamadaan, Kirman or Ardebil, most of them mirrored the Valley’s poetic flora, its architecture and birds. Today these ‘Kashmir Maharaja’ carpets are being woven by the Valley’s carpet makers. These antique collections are

brought together by carpet connoisseur and collector SM Tariq. Sourced from private collections many are replicated by local trainees and Kashmir carpet weavers, most of whom, like Yusuf and Pervez, are descendants of the Persian weavers.

The carpet exhibition showcases turquoise blue flower spattered Kashans, deep blue Isphahani carpets and a large number of Kashmir Maharaja carpets. The line-up includes outstanding well-knit silk masterpieces in shaded green and red. According to Tariq, “No Persian can match these to carpets. Both design and hand-knotted carpets represent highest quality and artistry.”

Another rare Kashmir Maharaja carpet is the ‘Khatumband,’ which reflects in its design a rare combination of architecture and artistry that are seen in carved wooden ceiling and mosques in Kashmir.

“We work through the snow-bound winters,” say Pervez and Yusuf, “on looms that have already been set by the women of the house.”

“The dyes are stored in vats and the threads are dyed as per the design. This leaves us to weave according to the ‘nakshabands’ coded design instructions. Young students like us work through the winter and imbibe the craft.” Says S.M. Tariq,. “This is one way of preserving the carpet making craft and taking it forward.”

Tariq’s initiative to revive the Kashmir Maharaja carpets supports 400 carpet-weaving families in Srinagar. He plans to create a Trust to take care of their financial needs from time to time. “On no account should this craft be allowed to languish and disappear” he says.

‘The Kashmir Maharaja Carpets’ is on view at Tulsi’s Arteriors, 6, Rutland Gate, Fourth Street, Chennai- 6. For details call 97911 90718.

Pushpa Chari

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:28:33 AM |

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