Under the spotlight: the art of weaving.
The artisan weavers chat quietly to each other as they sit in pairs. They work in tandem, the Golden Chevron pattern of our Lombard rug creeping steadily up the loom. A craft and a complicated science, people have been weaving for thousands of years. Ambrish Bharti, one of our leading loom artisans, tries to explain how an intricate webbing of thread is artfully made into a rug.
“The vertical threads,” he begins, “what we call the warp, are attached to beams at the top and the bottom of the loom, and pulled tight.” He points to a device in the centre. “This is called the shed, it temporarily separates the warp threads from each other so we can weave the yarn through the vertical warp in a horizontal direction.”
It’s the vertical interlacing through horizontal threads – the weft – that creates a solid piece of fabric. Each piece of yarn supports the other, holding them in place. The weavers move in sync, threading, shifting the shed, and then combing the threads into place. “You and your partner have to be synchronised,” Ambrish says. “If someone can’t synchronise with me, or he is lazy, then it just won’t work. It’s like a dance. You and your partner have to move with each other.”
Next to him is an image of the Lombard rug. Occasionally he glances at it, then at the pattern he’s creating before him. “I can see, just by looking at the rug, when the exact moment has come to switch to a different coloured thread. Then we just break the yarn”, he says it at the same time as he does it, snapping the wool in his hand and then knotting it to the new colour of thread. “And tie them together. That way, they don’t come apart. They become bonded.”
As we emerge from the workshop, the sun causing us to squint, Ambrish points to something hanging from the workshop’s roof. “Look! Look!” He shouts. “It’s the nest of a weaver bird.” We all stop to marvel at it, the way the dry grass has been interlaced to form an impenetrable material. “Weaving is a very special craft,” he says, grinning at us. “In India it’s a skill passed down from generation to generation. Just like the birds, it’s in our nature.”
Take a closer look at our hand-woven rug collection