CHARACTERISTICS OF HAND-KNOTTED TIBETAN RUGS: WOOL, SILK & HEMP
Tibetan families in Nepal continue a centuries-old tradition of hand-
knotting carpets. Yarns are hand-carded, spun and dyed, using natural
colors and modern European dyes. After a complex process of warping
the loom, the weavers tie rows of knots around a metal rod like a
large knitting needle. Every row of knotted loops is sliced with a
sharp blade, creating the characteristic striated texture of Tibetan
weaving. A fine Tibetan rug is luxurious and sensual, obviously an
individual work of art.
At the higher end, silk details may be added to a wool rug, as design
highlights, or blended with the wool throughout the entire carpet.
Natural hemp is another option that can be used instead of wool, or
combined with wool and silk. A rug of 100% silk is a spectacular
Tibetan rugs are greatly affected by quality. You must be sure that
your rug is actually made in Nepal, where many Tibetan exiles are
settled, rather than in India or China (“Indo-Tibetan”, or “Tibetan
style” are clues that you might not be getting an authentic product.)
The Tibetan weaving community in Nepal is well established, and they
have balanced their traditional techniques with modern innovation.
Even there, you will still find wide variations in the success of your
design reproduction, size and color matching in the larger factories.
The weavers working with Joan Weissman Studio are in a small family
workshop. They know each rug is being specially made for an individual
client, so they make sure every piece is made to the highest artistic
and technical standards. Any hand-made rug will have some natural
imperfections, but that is not the same as the problems you may
encounter from a simple lack of quality control.
One of the quality indications in Tibetan rugs will be the number of
knots per inch (from 40 – 100), which affect the thickness and density
of the weaving, and the detail of the design. Joan Weissman's rugs
start at a minimum of 80 knots, a very high standard. There is also a
difference in the yarn itself. Ours are made either with 100% Tibetan
wool, or with a small addition of New Zealand wool for extra color
saturation. The lower quality rugs often use Indian wool, which is
inferior, or all New Zealand wool, which dyes nicely, but does not
have the same lanolin-rich texture as Tibetan yarn.
Our studio supports Rugmark, a non-profit organization committed to
ending child labor and offering educational opportunities to children
in India and Nepal.