Overview –

Every three out of four guests who visit our showroom asks us ‘What makes Indian handmade rugs so expensive?’ In reality, the answer to this question may vary from person to person. A layman would undoubtedly address this question by saying ‘everything that’s good in quality is expensive’. But we chose to declutter doubts and bring a comprehensive guide that will take you through the process of rug making.

If you’ll read this till the end, we bet, you’ll fall in love with the Indian rugs. Every inch of them is an art that speaks about the unique proposition of quality fabrics, precisely hand-knotted with thousands of knots. What’s more charming about the Indian hand-made rugs is that these are patronage of the emperors who had earlier ruled in this country. The design of every Indian rug is inspired by the Indian heritage, history, colours, and cultures of this country.

What Makes a Rug Expensive?

The touch, lustre, and the nuance to the colour! In the most literal sense, the softest, smoothest, and shiniest rugs are the most expensive ones. The fabric material of the rug and the process behind making them is the key factor that determines the price of a rug. Primarily the highest quality rugs are made of Wool, Silk, or both mixed. Synthetic, Nylon, and Cotton rugs are inexpensive rugs but also less durable and less appealing to the eyes.

The cost of the rug is calculated as per the number of knots in a square inch. Higher the number of knots, the higher the time it will consume in making it. Hence, the higher the price will be. Materials used in the rugs are also of key importance. Rugs with different materials are priced differently.

Here is a sneak peek into what are the materials used in rug making –

  1. Wool – Wool is one of the primary materials used in all high-quality rugs. Thanks to its high durability, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Also, wool is easy to care for and does not smell even after repeated use. Woollen rugs are always in demand and are pieces that can exist for a lifetime.
  2. Silk – Silk is one of the finest fabrics the world has ever seen. People admire Silk similar to those diamonds in jewellery. In rug manufacturing, Silk is often matched with wool and there are numerous rugs that have both Silk and Wool.
  3. Cotton – Cotton is made of Cellulose and is acid resistant, and Alkali resistant. Cotton rugs are fairly cheap but lack durability and cannot be prevented from stains.

The making process of the rugs is also a determining factor behind the pricing of the Indian rugs. Primarily, there are three processes of rug making. These are –

  1. Hand-Knotted
  2. Hand-Tufted
  3. Machine Made rugs

Hand-Knotted rugs are the best quality rugs in the world. Also, these are the most expensive of all types. The quality construction of a hand-knotted rug demands time and unmatched craftsmanship. Every square inch of the rug is weaved with hundreds and thousands of knots of wool, silk, or both. A complete rug is bound to have more than a million knots and consumes around 2-3 months’ time in its making. Owing a hand-knotted Indian rug is a pleasant experience and gives a feel of luxury in its purest form.

How Are Indian Rugs Made?

In India, artisans who weave rugs and carpets are often descendants of early weavers in the same industry. Generations of people have spent their life weaving rugs and carpets. Earlier intricate designed carpets were weaved for the Mughal emperors in India, and now for the global customers.

We are happy to say that the legacy is continuing in its full spirit. Kalra’s Cottage Industry is one of the most preferred stores to buy Hand-knotted rugs in Agra. We are located near the Taj Mahal and you can find the most authentic hand-knotted rugs in our showroom. We feel glad to mention that more than 750 families in and around Agra work for us and help us build the best-quality rugs and carpets for our esteemed guests and customers. Rug manufacturing is a labor-intensive process with many steps involved. Let us have a look at the same –

  1. Carding and Spinning – A pre-work is done before starting with the weaving of a rug. It starts with separating high-quality rugs from raw yarn fibres. Then, the process of Carding and Spinning commences. Carding and Spinning is a combined process to clean, detangle yarn fibres and make them into a silver web. This web is then spun using a wheel called ‘charkha’ to make it a thread.

Carding and Spinning

  1. Dying – Colors are one of the key elements that make a rug look distinguished from others. Firstly, a natural dye is prepared from flowers and leaves. A handful of threads is put inside the dye so that it absorbs the colour. Sufficient time is given to dying the threads so that the entire thread is colored evenly. One has to be patient to see the threads soak the colour completely.

Dying

  1. Drying – After dyeing, these threads are left open in the sun to dry. As direct sunlight oxidises the dye, the desired colour of the thread comes up naturally.

Drying

  1. Carpet Maps – A carpet map is a piece of paper on which the design of the rug or carpet is drawn. Earlier, the artisan used to draw it manually by hand. In modern times, it is slightly getting replaced by computer-generated maps which are more accurate and precise.

Carpet Maps

  1. Weaving – Now this is the most interesting part of rug making, weaving! Weaving is done on the loom. A loom is an apparatus on which a piece of cloth/fabric is weaved. Here, there are two kinds of threads used in weaving. One is the Warp thread (placed vertically) which is attached to the loom. Another one is the weft thread (placed horizontally). A knot is made from the weft thread on the Warp thread in the shape of an English Eight (8). It is then cut with a sharp knife so that the knots look even across the entire carpet.

Weaving

Weaving loom

  1. Carving – It consumes around one and a half months to weave the entire rug by hand. Once done, hand carving is done using a scissor which is shaped at a specific angle so that the texture of the rug doesn’t get damaged while cutting.

Carving

  1. Washing – The entire rug is washed several times to remove the dust and extra threads coming out of the carpet. A newly weaved rug sheds a little bit, but with time, it stops shedding completely. Washing a rug also helps in improving its shine and bringing out the best of its colours.

Washing

  1. Final Finishing – Every great thing takes time and in this stage, final touches are given to the rug. Extensive checks are implied across several areas of the rug. It varies in its thickness, density of the knots, or design elements. Hand-knotted rugs are very durable, soothing to the eye, and are a piece of fine art.

Carpet Final Finishing

Are Indian Rugs Worth Buying?

Absolutely Yes! The world admires Indian hand-made carpets. Especially the Mughal carpets and the Taj Mahal Carpets. The design of each of them is inspired by the ones preferred by the Mughal Emperors in India. Apart from these, some of the other distinguished carpets are inspired by nature, culture, and global art.

India prides itself on being one of the leading manufacturers and exporters of hand-knotted rugs. As per Statista, the export value of the Indian hand-made carpets is estimated at around $1.4 billion.

Conclusion

Yes, Indian rugs are expensive for all the right reasons. These are soothing to the eyes, comforting as we step on them, beautiful in design, and dazzle the ambiance of the area where it is put. Apart from their physical properties, Indian rugs are an inseparable part of Indian history and heritage. The Indian rug industry is continuously growing and the legacy will certainly continue to garner love and appreciation from the world.

Siddharth Kalra

Founder of The Rugs Cafe-'We Brew Rugs' company, e-tailing the traditional carpet experience to global platforms. Founder of Kalra Consultancy Services, providing end-to-end digitization solutions and disrupting business models across multi-channel industries. Working as a Program Manager at Alphaa AI-AI Data Platform startup - 'Alexa for Data Warehouse', raised $1.6 million dollars. 🚀🚀 CMO at Kalra's Cottage Industry- Promoting the local community of highly skilled artisans by producing luxurious rugs from the Mughal Era. CMO at The International School Agra- enabling future visionaries of India. Bachelor of Business Administration specialized in Finance from Christ University, Bangalore.

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