The handmade carpets of Kashmir are famous throughout the world. Though quite expensive, Kashmiri carpets are a worthwhile lifelong investment. Apart from being always handmade, another quality of Kashmir carpets is that they are always knotted, never tufted. The craft of carpet weaving did not originate in Kashmir, rather it is believed to have been acquired from Persia. The designs on the carpets, even today, reflect a Persian touch. One of the most common designs seen on carpets of Kashmir is that of the "tree of life". These carpets are quite unique in themselves, differentiated from others by their color-way (subtle) and other details.
The durability as well as the price of a carpet depends upon it's knotting. The more knots per square inch, the higher will be the carpet's price as well as durability. The knots are counted on the reverse side of the carpet. Also, there are both single and double-knotted carpets. You can quite easily identify one from the other on the reverse of the carpet. A single knotted carpet is fluffier and more resistant to the touch than the double knotted one.
These carpets are made out of the finest wools, which were sometimes imported from Bradford, Scotland, Wales & Manchester and were known as Manchester Wools.This fine wool was normally found in such high altitudes and the low vegetation in these areas resulted in a much finer quality of hair.
This fine wool was handspun and later hand knotted. The dyeing was done using vegetable/natural dyes, which improve with age as you use them. There are variations in the hues of shades within a colour, which in carpet terminology, is known as abrash and Shade bands, which are strips of variations in colour owing to the wool being dyed at different points of time using other ingredients from different lots.
Carpet weaving in Kashmir was not originally indigenous but is thought to have come in by way of Persia. Till today most designs are distinctly Persian with local; variations. One example, however, of a typical Kashmiri design is the tree of life. Persian design not withstanding, any carpet woven in Kashmir is referred to as Kashmiri. The color-way of Carpet, and its details differentiate it from any other carpet. And while on the subject of colors, it should be kept in mind that although the colors of Kashmiri carpets are more subtle and muted than elsewhere in the country, only chemical dyes are used-vegetable dyes have not been available now for hundred years.
The knotting of the carpet is the most important aspect, determining its durability and value, in addition to its design. Basically, the more knots per square inch, the greater its value and durability. Also there are single and double knotted carpets. You can quiet easily identify one from the other on the reverse of the carpet. The effect that it has on the pile, too, is important- a double knotted carpet has a pile that bends when you brush it one way with your hand, and stands upright when it is brushed in other direction. A Single knotted carpet is fluffier and more resistant to touch.