Thursday, September 25, 2014

India Buying Trip September 2014: The Rugs! By Bruce McLaren

Well, this time around for our annual rug buying expedition to India the lucky travellers were Doug and his daughter, Cynthia. Bruce, who volunteered his services, was waved aside by the Grand Maharajah of PooBah, on account of his being needed to do, um, I don't know, whatever it is that Bruce does around here. Like write blogs!

Doug sports the new "Yarn Crown" made popular by One Direction
So first things first, stock has been getting a bit low and it is no exageration to say that in India these days you can find every possible incarnation of a rug, whether it be antique Persian pieces in a plethora of colors, or contemporary designs that are so strikingly colorful they can blow your mind apart. So off to India to buy rugs it is!

In this installment we are going to focus on the work, meaning, the rugs. The next installment will focus more on the jarring multiplicity of life in all forms and designs that combines to make India the land of dreams.

Now there are two ways to go on a rug buying trip. The first is the more refined, gentlemanly of the two. A few days at The Imperial art-deco masterpiece hotel in New Delhi, toying with pink gins at the bar and looking double mysterious. A jaunt down mother Ganges and one can visit the ghats and the spectacle of rows of corpses bring lined up to be cremated. If some are vulnerable to being struck down by madness then perhaps a quick trip up into the Himalayas to rejuvinate ones spirits? Then there is the buying trip that is like a relentless marathon, with endless hours spent on the road, being bashed about with the stopping and starting, potholes as big as war craters. Plus, Indian roads are not as smooth and amenable as those we have become accustomed to in the west.

In a short space of time Doug and Cynthia covered a lot of terrain, visitng around 15 vendors. To get to these vendors you need an agent, Suneil Sikka, who met with them in Delhi before continuing on to Varanasi, Agra and Jaipur. This is the central north part of the country, but is also the centre of rug-production in India.

Whichever approach you take to rug-buying a few things will forever remain the same. For example, the time-honoured, and much desired, cup of tea before buying.

And over tea cetain new ideas are worked up, like in the picture below of an old Persian Heriz. We say "Please make this!" They say "Certainly it can be done!"

More tea with the good people that make it all happen...

Sometimes Doug gets a little heavy-handed in order to seal the deal...

Then respects must be paid to the kings in their compounds, Here Doug discusses the Gnostic aspects of Neo-Platonism with one such rug-mogul outside the palacial headquarters of Ambika.

And what would be a trip to India without a visit to the White House? That's right, one of our main partners in crime has built a replica of the White House. There are gardens outside. And check out the fence! The current president is Sabir...

And then there is the buying, which is a much more sophisticated affair than a decade ago

And, of course, when one visits these emporiums, you invariably encounter the actual rug-making process in all of its facets. This is always the most interesting part of the trip. Got to start with the yarn!
And I mean A LOT of yarn!

What on earth are we going to do with all of this yarn!

Each bundle of yarn actually represents a measured out rug, if you can believe it!
Well, we could begin by spinning the yarn, right?

Then there are the scaled drawings of each rug design to be arranged:

Then there is the weaving. Here is a man at loom, following the scaled plan of the design.

And here are some gents tying and cutting the knots...

Finally there is the clipping:

Followed by a good wash:

And then onto the racks for a final stretch!

Doug and Cynthia were in India for a number of serious reasons:

1. First of all, we manufacture three lines of hand-woven rugs. Our longest running line has been the "Arts & Crafts", turn of the century design movement. Here are some of our new designs being finished off....

2. They were also there to work on our South-Western designs, like this little beauty that we should get sometime soon...

And here are some of our popular South-Westerns all ready to go...

3. They were looking for new rugs that are out there on the market. Like I said in the intro, every design under the sun is being made. Designs that were coming out of Turkey five years ago and Nepal two years ago are also coming out of India now. Nothing stays secret for very long in this game. Lets take a look at some samples of what the punters are into eh!

First up, tone on tone and dual-tones, in muted grays and such, all the rage with desginers right now:


Cool "brick" rug in grays and browns

Now for the BauHausesque designs. Big in Germany, strangely enough.

Finally, the reproductions of antique Persian rugs continues on:

Anyway, that's enough for now. In the next installment we take a step away from the rug making and look about a bit! Stay tuned...