Woolen carpets are well known in the Kashmiri culture and are locally known as Kalin. It started as shawl weaving at first but gradually artisans took to making carpets as it brought forth a big demand. Talim is actually a weaver’s alphabet for shawl making which stated being used for carpet weaving. The designs are organized in graphical manner with every square standing for a knot and the whole design based on it. To finalize the design, the Talim writer may take up to three months or even more depending on the intricacy of the design and the number of knots planned for every square. Indian carpets from Kashmir could be distinguished by the pronounced ribs that run throughout the back of the design. Modern carpets though have a smooth back but the quality derived from the mostly automatic weave is not too good.

The carpet is the main form of home furnishing for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and is used till date for sitting, sleeping during the night, seating guests and spreading them for special occasions, feasts and ceremonies. Available varieties nowadays come in sizes of 3 feet x 5 feet, 4 feet x 6 feet and so on.


The types of carpets indigenous to Jammu and Kashmir starkly resemble the Central Asian textiles including the Turkish and Bokhara make. Often, these carpets are made from woolen weft mixed with cotton wrap. The various motifs that come with these carpets are horse designs, animal scenes, hunting and medallions. Plant and floral designs that come in unusual sizes too could be found. Also trellis designs that are a hallmark of the Mughal traditions too are featured on the borders. In this carpet, an interesting thing about the stitch is that the repeated designs never give rise to any clue of monotony but are actually quite vibrant. Carpet weaving first originated in Persia and then travelled to Kashmir and obviously the designs reflect their Persian sources. In addition to this, knotting the carpet is a common thing that also adds value and durability to the product. An important feature of Kashmiri carpets is that they always hand knotted and is thus extremely expensive investment that last a lifetime. The carpet industry due to the sheer requirement of artisans requires employing a huge bulk of the local population while earning a fait share of foreign exchange for the country.

The carpets of Ladakh on the other hand are completely indigenous to the local culture. These were first made by the Buddhists living in Ladakh using it for their personal use. People from this area have been carpet weavers for a long time and some opine for them being the oldest of textile forms.


The carpets from Ladakh are an integral part of the local culture. The basic Tibetan size is 3 inch x 6 inch also known as Khalidal. These patterns are woven by looping together knots known as Khabdan. The designs are largely inspirations for the Mahayana Buddhism. Barajasta is one of the main techniques used by the artisans and are worked out in piles. The background of these carpets features plain weaves in golden threads adding to the lustrous appeal of the product. Bokhara Carpets on the other hand are made out of pure wool and feature three consecutive rows of irregular hexagons making the main motif. Other geometrical patterns used in the motifs are leafs, herringbone, latch hooks and diamonds. The colors used in the threads are red, blue, green and ivory. The average background is usually yellow, mauve, mahogany, burnt almond, orange or dark green in color. While making a carpet the skeleton is placed on tightly stretched on a frame and weft threads are passed through manually through the Talim. This is also when the color specifications are looked after. Women dominance is widely prevalent in the making of these carpets.

Carpet Varieties

The widely known indigenous Ladakh carpets are designs that are inspired by religious myths. As per the Mahayana Buddhism, a dragon motif is quite popular. A few more deigns can be found including Guanakchagri (Chinese wall), Tashi Stak Gyat (eight lucky signs), Cha (birds), Khorlo (three wheels) and Mentok (flowers). The eight lucky signs include that of lotus, conch-shell, and wheel of religion, holy-vase endless knot, banner of victory, umbrella and pair of golden fish as per Buddhism.

Another type of carpet design one would come across in Jammu and Kashmir is known as Tsiukdan by the locals. This is a unique carpet stitch where the weft of the rug and the wrap are made from woolen yarn.

The other design hat has already been talked about is the Bokhara carpets.

Carpet Care

Since carpets used at this part of the world are put to a variety of uses, the stitch, design and the colors are generally very tough. It would require quite a strong washing when it need to but one thing is sure that they would last a lifetime.

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