Taj Handknotted Painting Silk on Silk Rug 5ft x 7ft
Zobeida, the favourite wife of the famous Caliph Haroun-al-Rasheed, established the town of Kashan, which is situated between Tehran and Isfahan. Due to the very weaving and the beautiful colours and designs, Kashans have come to be classified among the finest carpets. The knotting is very fine. The woollen Kashan has between 120 and 240 knots to each square inch, and there are 240 to 550 knots to each square inch in a silk one.
The warp and weft are made of cotton or silk. The designs vary from medallions with tendrils to vases, and from all-over patterns to very fine floral designs. However, the most common designs are those with a central medallion.
The intricate design reflects the linear and arabesque motifs found throughout Islamic architecture. The bird and flower imagery is frequently used as well. Commonly known as the “garden design,” Kashan carpets resonate with the entire ambiance of a garden, usually with a central medallion on a field and decorated with a pattern of interlocking flowering branches. Normally there is a large border clearly separated from the field, often by several narrow borders. In Kashmir, this design is called Shalimar after the famous mogul garden.
Kashmiri art and handicrafts go back over 500 years, with design inspiration from Persia and other nearby nations. Dating back to 1398, Taimur invaded India, and the Sultan Sikander of Kashmir came to terms with the invaders. As part of his tribute to the invaders, he sent his son back with the Amir to Samaekand, his capital. Taimur, in addition to his military ambitions, aspired also to be a great patron of the arts, letters and philosophy. Therefore, the exile for the young Kashmiri prince proved instructive and stimulating, and he made good use of this rare opportunity. When he returned and ascended the throne in Srinagar as Zain-ul-Abedin in 1423, he collected around him skilled craftsmen and artist who began the great art tradition of Kashmir.
Over time, carpet weaving in Kashmir has attained extraordinary levels, and can claim some of the finest hand-knotted carpets in the world. While retaining the original techniques, great advancements have been made. The pile itself is now made of the fine silk from mulberry worms raised in Kashmir expressly for these carpets. The resulting sheen and luster give interplay of infinite reflections, and become even richer over time as they are used. The density of knots has been refined to achieve suppleness unknown in Persian carpets of wool. Still cottage industries, these works of art are woven in the artisan’s home, with various family members assisting. The pattern, or taleem, is “sung” and pliant weaver’s fingers respond by creating specific number of knots in a particular color.
An Urdu couplet says:
‘They are purse proud in the world that can practice some handicraft.
The fingers of a craftsman are the keys to the treasury of Kashmir.’
Kashan carpets stand to be among the best and are as hard wearing as they are decorative.