RUG Making in India

Bustling Bhadohi, also known as Carpet City, lies deep in the state of Uttar Pradesh, North India. I was welcomed with true Indian hospitality and enthusiastically shown around. The first time returning to India since an all inspiring trip, 8 years ago. My mission to explore and understand each stage of the rug making process was underlined with a progress review of the rug order due to arrive in London this week. 

We set off along dusty, bumpy roads for the 2 hour drive to the village of Mirzapur. Buffalo and goats were all along the way and I watched as daily life unfolded along the roadside. We reached the small brick home of Master Weaver Mata where he and his wife were busily weaving WAFFLE on this impressive loom set up.

Mesmerising to see the loom in operation. This husband and wife team working in sync, weave on average of 25cm a day. Through actions and translating we discussed limitations of the weave and explored further developments. A memorable encounter and an absolute highlight, I was so honoured to meet this couple, 

We walked through narrow lanes, to a centre where the embroidery and finishing was being carried out by a team of 7 craftsmen. Using long sharp needles each strip of yarn is individually pulled through by hand to create the gradient stripes. Despite language barriers we laughed and worked through challenges together. 

Once embroidery is complete the rugs are taken to the field at sunrise, stretched to size and pinned to the ground. A transparent liquid is applied to the back of the rug and it is left to dry under the heat of the sun for the day. 

By sunset the rug is dry, unpinned, rolled and brought to the centre for finishing. It is trimmed and the edges bound by needle and wool with an impressivly nifty toe-holds-thread technique!

The final step is finishing and sewing of the cork label and for this the rug is transported back to Bhadohi. From there it is shipped to London.

Alongside understanding each step of the process, it was important for me to understand and experience the way of life here. I never realised the time involved or how many skilled hands have played a part in the making of a single WAFFLE rug. A fantastic trip on so many  levels, which much more still to explore for the future, I look forward to my next visit.

Ciara McGarrity