Monday, September 11, 2017




A Note in my diary jotted in December  1979 ( As conveyed to me by kashmiri speaking General Manager of M/S Chic International Pvt Limited , A Carpet trading unit Of Birlas in srinagar year 1979. The unit had its office and Godown behind Broadway hotel Srinagar ) reveals as under …

“It is believed that Carpets became a part of Royal flooring in Kashmir during Sultan Zain ul Abdin’s time. This great sultan is believed to have introduced the Art of carpet weaving in Kashmir some time in 15th century. This Art suffered a set back during subsequent turbulent period though Emperor Jahangir made serious efforts to revive this industry. And During Mughal rule, kashmiri Handicrafts manufacturing activity including carpets saw encouragement and consequent revival. some Persian designs were passed on to Local Artisans by outside Traders and travelers .

Thereafter ,Maharaja Ranbir singh took some serious steps to revive the Art and summoned a British Trader to Kashmir in 1876 but this Trader did not stay long. He also summoned a French Trader who opened a carpet factory and introduced some floral designs but he too packed up due to losses selling his factory, raw material and finished stock to another European .After sometime this factory was purchased by a British firm W. Mitchell And Co and they named this New factory as EAST INDIA CARPT FACTORY . Finally a Businessman from Amritsar bought the firm .The company employed local artisans and did good Business earning profit. Tempted by this venture , Another British company namely C H HADOW AND CO  ( Proprietor C M Hadow ) arrived in valley and opened one more carpet factory bigger than EAST INDIA CARPET FACTORY. Both the companies brought designs from Yarkand and Persia and did good business . However , Persian designs became more popular with kashmiri Artisans .This was the period when kashmiri carpets were being exhibited in International Exhibitions be it London, Chicago or Paris .

Some royal families in Europe also bought kashmiri carpets. British officers in India also started ordering kashmiri handmade Carpets . So many Royals had a fancy for kashmiri carpets . A Huge kashmiri carpet was carried to Lahore and presented to Maharaja Ranjit singh . It was preserved in Lahore Museum. Lord Curzon also Purchased a Kashmiri carpet . A new market was created world over by C H HADOW AND CO. And by  1931 , there were six big carpet units in Srinagar employing locals as weavers , Taleem writers , Dyers and designers . In 1932 Maharaja Hari singh's Government declared a subsidy scheme for export of Carpets from Kashmir which gave further fillip to manufacturing of   quality kashmiri carpets .  However , in 1945, the Hadow family sold their factory to a Calcutta company known as 'The Kashmir Fine Art Dealers Ltd .

Started in the year 1888, C H HADOW FACTORY changed the entire design , colour schemes and appearance of kashmiri carpets so as to make them competitive in International markets . The factory employed a European Dyer .This factory produced some fine handmade carpets with 700 knots per square inch . A real wonder . Many artisans from these old   factories    started their own units and carpet manufacturing became a preferred occupation in Kashmir creating a demand and a Tag that came to be known as ‘ KASHMIR CARPET “ world over . Now Kashmir handmade carpets come in silk/ wool in different sizes , colours and designs . A real luxury to acquire by any person or family presently. One has to be Careful, a cheap staple yarn variety may also be passed on to ignorant persons as “Kashmir handmade silk Carpet” .

Kashmir carpets have seen a Boom after 1970 and I am sure it shall continue so for many many years to come. In 1978-79 , we exported carpets worth about  12 crores from Kashmir .“

 ( Autar Mota )

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