The 20th Indian Carpet Expo currently going on in the campus of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University in Varanasi comes to an end on November 01. Organised by the Carpet Export Promotion Council, the trade fair is an annual event where manufacturers, exporters and buyers from across the globe meet. This year's fair has been organised from October 29 to November 01. AIR Correspondent Salman Haider takes a look at this gala event.
Every middle class household craves for having a good quality carpet for one's drawing room. If it is a Persian Rug then it's surely a knockout neighbour's envy!
The Indian Carpets are in no way inferior to Iranian or Persian Carpets because the weaving technology has directly come from Persian Ancestors. The Persian nomads who got settled in Vindhya region of eastern Uttar Pradesh in 16th Century AD brought the carpet weaving technique along with them. Some of the most exclusive carpets were created during the Mughal reign, each carpet unlike the other and a wonderful fusion of colours and design.
The carpet weaver grows as an artist, a creator who could weave poetry in his designs and every knot he ties, giving a touch of aesthetic beauty to his creations.
A carpet weaver's skills are his own and the designs he evolves are his brainchildren to grow into an aesthetic piece made of wool and silk.
The legendary skill passes on from one generation to another through skilfully nurtured hands of people though there remain a very few families who have upheld the family tradition.
The Indian carpet weaver uses the asymmetrical or Persian knot which is tied with a strand of yarn around two adjacent warp threads, leaving some threads free at either side for the lateral selvedge. Each knot is separated from its neighbour by a loop that is cut after the next shoot of weft. This knot is also called the 'two-handed knot' as it can be executed both from right to left and from left to right. The process is more widespread as it is more rapid.
The art survived through a long period of upheaval during the British Raj till date. Mirzapur and Sant Ravidas Nagar Bhadohi districts of east UP are known as Carpet Belt where thousands of foreign buyers come every year to make their purchases. It is one of those Industries in India where the buyer comes to the doorsteps of the artisan.
When freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak hyped the Ganesha festival into a large-scale celebration to unite people in the name of god, no one imagined it would become so popular. But the turbulent phase is yet to pass. The Chinese poor-quality synthetic and machine-woven carpets are onslaughting the middle class households as they are cheaper than these traditional hand made carpets.
The hand made carpets are naturally costly due to intensive labour involved in it. A 10x12 feet carpet takes as long as a month to finish depending on the fineness of the design. Every member of a weaver's household takes part in the making of a carpet. The international competition has been fierce as the Iranian rugs come cheaper than Indian one. Moreover, during past several years, a campaign at the international level was on over the alleged involvement of Child Labour in the carpet making.
The establishment of Carpet Export Promotion Council, CEPC in 1982, by the Ministry of Textiles of the government of India was aimed at promoting the export of hand-knotted rugs and all other types and styles of floor coverings from India. Since its inception, it has worked a lot to promote manufacture and export of the precious handicraft.
The CEPC annually organises the trade fair in the carpet belt that provides a forum for buyer-seller meet.
According to sources in CEPC, a business of Rs 100 Crore has been finalised during first two days of the fair. Around 250 buyers from various countries visited the stalls and placeed orders during the period. The export articles like rugs, dhurries and other floor coverings of 247 exporters have been showcased in the fair.
The carpet industry is diversifying itself. Coir and Zari Embroidery have been beautifully included in the carpet weaving apart from traditional wool and silk material. Sanjay Srivastava, a carrier and forwarding agent from Bhadohi says that the buyers have shown keen interest in this innovation and the stalls having these new products were crowded.
" The international demand for Indian carpets is again increasing. We have included modern techniques and materials like silk, jute and hemp and these are being widely accepted in America, West Europe, Turkey and Australia. It is a fashion product now " says a leading exporter from Bhadohi, Mr. Ravi Pataudia.
The four - day event was inaugurated by the Minister of State for textile Smt. Panabaaka Lakshmi.
The minister felicitated 20 exporters for their excellent work on behalf of CEPC for the years 2007-08 and 2008-09 in a separate function. She said the carpet industry has come out of the slump and is making steady progress but a lot of things are yet to be done to accelerate the growth of the Industry. She said the government is keen for the welfare of weavers and doing all that is necessary.
Indian Institute of Carpet Technology has been established at Bhadohi a few years back to train the weavers about various aspects of carpet making - from designing to colouring and washing the finished product.
The Industry is on the path of steady growth. During the fiscal 2008-09 the India's carpet export reached 2708 Crore Rupees. The Indian economy is also growing at a steady pace of 8.5%. Let us hope the traditional craft is preserved through support of its patrons and the government.
Salman Haider, AIR Correspondent, Gorakhpur