Indian Carpets, Rugs and Mats


In recent years there has been a growing demand for durries both in India and abroad. The durry is a cotton spread without piles, which traditionally comes in two varieties: one that is used on the bed instead of a mattress or below a thin cotton mattress and the other which is used as a floor covering. The former variety is smaller in size and is made on a pit-loom while the latter is made on an elementary loom called an adda.

The technique of durry weaving can be seen in its most primitive form in the villages of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana where girls are normally put to the task at an early age so that they can prepare rugs that will form part of their trousseau. In contrast, girls in Navalgund, a village in Karnataka that produces a small number of unusual durries, are never taught the craft lest they spread the skill outside the family after marriage. Durries come in numerous designs although the most common are stripes of different colours and geometrical designs. Sometimes animal and bird motifs are also used. Fine durries in brilliant colours made of cotton and silk have become a speciality of Salem (Tamil Nadu) while those made of jute fibre are woven in West Bengal.

The modern Indian housewife often tends to prefer durries to carpets. Durries are lighter and easier to maintain and can usually be washed at home. They are suitable for a hot and dusty environment and being less expensive they can be replaced every few years. This does not mean that durries are not long lasting. People even have durries that have lasted for about twenty years and in spite of several washes still look good.


The namdha is a speciality of Kashmir, which is so named because of the embroidery with woollen thread that completely covers the base of hessian. A namdha is prepared by spreading wool with certain quantities of cotton evenly either or mats, as in Kashmir, or on sackcloth, as in Rajasthan. This is moistened with a special solution, which is pressed into the felt either by treading upon it or by applying pressure by hand. Namdhas are either embroidered or appliquéd.

Other Indian Mats

In Kerala, coir floor coverings are a traditional craft. Grass mats are also woven in many parts of India. These crafts are much older than that of pile carpet weaving. The kora grass mats of south India and sitalpati (meaning cool mats) of Assam are well known. Mats are also made of wheat or rice straw, certain types of weeds, and of fine bamboo. These are the traditional floor coverings in rural areas although there is a growing demand for some varieties in the urban and international markets. Today many of these fibres are used for making table mats as well.

For those interested in seeing a wide range of Indian floor coverings, a visit to the Government emporia in Delhi is recommended. Each state has a showroom that normally depicts its range of handicrafts. Since these emporia are all located in the same area it is easy to have a quick view of the wide variety of handicrafts from different corners of the country.

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