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Everything You need to Know about Hand Knotted Carpets

  • by Shubham Sharma

A thing of beauty is a joy forever, so said Shakespeare. 

Life is all about the finer things, isn’t it? Objects of fine art and beauty are rare, and take time to be made. But when months of painstaking labour and hard-earned craftsmanship result in an exquisite product, then the wait seems worth it. And the outcome becomes an heirloom to be passed onto future generations.

One such product of exquisite craftsmanship is the hand knotted carpet, made with love and attention by master craftsmen who have spent years training and perfecting their craft.

Each piece is a timeless classic and worth possessing for its sheer artistry. 

So, if you are thinking of investing in one, let us guide you on how to discern hand knotted pieces from machine-made ones, and where to get genuine hand knotted carpets in India.

What is a hand knotted carpet?

A hand knotted carpet is a hand-crafted piece, in which the weaver ties each knot by hand around the warp and weft of the rug. The more intricate the design, the more knots it has. Skilled artisans work several hours, with astonishing artistry and patience, to create a unique hand knotted carpet

The material used in hand knotted rugs is usually combinations of wool and silk, or pure wool or pure silk alone, with a cotton foundation. 

The distinctive features of a genuine piece are:

  • Individual craftsmanship
  • Intricate designs and patterns
  • Use of natural dyes and colours
  • Excellent durability that lasts for several generations
  • Each design is unique and one of a kind
  • Can withstand high usage

Since these carpets and rugs are far superior in terms of sheer craftsmanship and detailed attention than machine-made carpets, these are priced higher than the latter. But then, when did art come without a price?


How can you tell if a rug is hand knotted?

The number of knots alone is one factor from which you can ascertain the quality of a genuine hand knotted carpet. You can do it by checking the Knots Per Square Inch (KPSI) of a piece.

Turn a hand knotted rug over, and count the knots running across the length and breadth per square inch. On multiplying them, you will get the total KPSI. For example, a rug with 14 knots each vertically and horizontally per inch, has a KPSI of 196. 

This is a slightly complex calculation, but your weaver or stockist can guide you suitably. (KPSI can be compared to the number of pixels per square inch in a. high-resolution image, where the higher the number of pixels, the more detailed and good quality is the image).

You can also examine the following:

  • The quality of the wool used
  • Types of dyes used
  • The pile height of the carpet
  • Intricacy of the design

Since they're made by hand, these might have minor imperfections. But then, what is beauty without a bit of imperfection? Rather than viewing these imperfections as flaws, connoisseurs value these as artful hallmarks of a hand-woven piece. 

Do be careful of imitations however. Many machine-made carpets intentionally emulate this same effect. Do check the KPSI and other mentioned criteria.

How long does it take to hand knot a rug?

Anything that is labour intensive and involves craft and expertise, takes time and immense patience to get made.

There are more than eighteen steps involved in the journey of creating a hand knotted carpet!

One of the oldest techniques of carpet weaving in our country, hand knotting requires the skills of master craftsmen who spend several hours toiling to produce a high-quality rug. It is estimated that around 120 skilled artisans are involved in making a single piece!

The weaver first creates the design on paper, then reproduces it on the loom. Each knot is tied by hand, so it is a painstakingly slow process. It may take up to several years to complete a hand knotted carpet.

It goes without saying that the finished work of art is classic, eternal, and of exquisite beauty.

Are hand knotted rugs worth it?

Are solitaire diamonds worth their exorbitant price? Why do we buy original works of art from the masters when we can easily get fakes? Are bespoke artefacts or designer wear worth possessing? 

You get the drift? The answer is yes, if you are a discerning buyer.

Hand-made products and works of art lack the sheen and perfection of machine-made items, but are far superior in terms of artistry and authenticity. What is special about hand knotted carpets is the sheer amount of craftsmanship involved. Imagine the amount of work on one finished piece!

If you are an aesthete, you would definitely want to possess one of these beauties. Hand knotted carpets in India are made in various parts of North India. However, to own one, you don’t need to travel to where the artisan is based. 

Why Bareeki?

Bareeki is a platform meant to showcase the work of Indian craftsmen. 

  • We work with artisans whose families have been weaving carpets for generations. 
  • Our carpets have a minimum of 1 lakh knots, with a pile height of about 1-2 cm. Which means that the knots are tight, making the carpet highly durable.
  • The dyes used in the carpet are absolutely natural.
  • Genuine and natural sheep wool is ethically sourced 
  • It takes about two months to one year to make a Bareeki carpet, depending on the size
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