A PASSION FOR KASHMIRI CARPETS
Image: Indian Jungle Pure Silk, Deepak Badhwar. Images Courtesy of Satyen Badhwar
Written by Brinda Gill
“Carpet weaving has been an old art in Kashmir. It evolved beautifully when new designs and dyeing techniques were brought in by master weavers from Iran and present-day Uzbekistan in centuries past”, says Deepak Badhwar.
Deepak collaborates with master weavers in Srinagar, Kashmir, to co-create fine hand-knotted wool, silk and pashmina carpets that are retailed under his eponymous label, in New Delhi, India.
Deepak learnt the nuances of carpets and carpet weaving from a young age as he grew up in Srinagar, always lived in a home graced with fine hand-woven Kashmiri carpets and as his father had founded Indian Art Carpets, a business of hand-woven Kashmir carpets.
A passion for Kashmiri carpets led Deepak to join his father’s business in 1978. He immersed himself in researching historical Kashmir carpets. He started reviving old patterns and creating new designs in collaboration with a family and team of weavers to create masterpieces. He also created a well-equipped karkhana (workshop) for the comfort of weavers.
Image: Deepak Badhwar. Images Courtesy of Satyen Badhwar
The carpets are typically woven with a pile of wool or silk. A few carpets are woven with a pile of pashmina; these owe their creation to Deepak’s unrelenting efforts. In 2000, he had read about Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1569- 1627) having commissioned a pashmina carpet from weavers in Kashmir. Obsessed with the reference, he looked for someone who could weave the same; five years later he connected with a family who now weaves fine pashmina yarn carpets for him.
The yarns for some of the premium carpets are dyed with vegetable dyes; some may be dyed in select dyes such as saffron to obtain a gorgeous golden-yellow. The weaving is fine: some carpets have over 1000 knots per square inch.
Image: Lotus Lake Pure Silk, Deepak Badhwar. Images Courtesy of Satyen Badhwar
Two types of knots are worked: the rare senneh knot or single knot is worked on the premium carpets and the double knot (jufti) on other carpets. Some carpets are woven with the `sauf’ technique, for which only the motifs –such as floral sprays or flowers- are woven on a base of pure metal yarns to allow the base of metal yarns to create a resplendent backdrop or outline.
The themes of the carpets are inspired by nature, the natural beauty of Kashmir, and antique Persian carpets with Deepak bringing creative touches to the designs. The carpets thus portray compositions like lakes filled with lotuses, a Chinar tree created like a tree of life with birds and animals, flowers set in a lattice, rose gardens and the Indian Jungle, a mesmerising rendition of a lush Indian jungle full of flowering plants, trees, birds and animals that are sure to bring warmth and life to a space.