Carpets of Sikkim

The women of the Bhutia community of Sikkim practice what is perhaps the oldest form of carpet weaving in the world where they traditionally weave hand-knotted woollen carpets with Tibetan designs on upright wooden frame-loom. Besides regular carpets the Bhutia women also weave small bedside rugs called asans to sit on. The method of weaving and the use of decorative motifs and colour schemes are unique to this community. The patterns commonly woven on to the carpets are stylised floral motifs, compositions borrowed from Buddhist iconography and geometrical designs. Tibetan designs like a dragon holding a ball in his mouth or the two mythical Tibetan birds called the dak and the jira have a significance of its own. The overall effect on the carpet is a single, powerful, bold design. Geometrical patterns are created using knots of different colour using vegetable and natural dyes to obtain the right colours.