To the floor designed

To the floor designed

To the floor designed

Carpets have adorned tasteful homes for centuries. Now dhurries, the Indian lightweight floor covering, have come into fashion in a big way too, says Anju Munshi.

The word carpet evokes luxury and brings to our minds a regal air. This luxurious floor covering also defines aristocracy and good living ruling the interiors of homes for centuries, especially in colder climates. That is probably the reason why flying carpets connote a fanciful and a charming journey that instantly draws images of emperors and queens and Aladdin with his magic lamp.

Carpets provide warmth and style to a room and absorb unwanted noise. They retain their beauty and durability for many years but require effort for maintenance. So in today’s changing and hectic lifestyle, attention has shifted from the heavy languorous flooring to light and slim dhurries, the Indian style rugs.

Dhurries are good for Indian weather conditions as they are light and don’t gather dust. Moreover, they are not as expensive as carpets and are available in bright and radiant colours and need minimal effort. However, the price difference in dhurries can be substantial too, especially if they are from Zeba or Shyam Ahuja designer houses.
Dhurries started as an underlay for the expensive carpets, but today it occupies a place of pride in up market homes. It is no longer a poor man’s carpet, but can be a strong style statement.

Dhurrie making was reinvented and commercialised in the mid-90s as an attractive floor covering and even as a wall hanging. The innovative interior designers literally pulled them from the charpoys of the Indian villages, gave them a makeover and slowly these humble rugs started giving the carpets a run for their money.

The foremost to bring the dhurrie to the limelight was the famous designer Shyam Ahuja. Not only did he revive rugs in our country, but also took them across the seven seas. They have graced homes of celebrities like Madonna, late Princess Diana, besides adorning the country’s highest official residences in Delhi.

Carpets are woven on vertical looms while dhurries are done on horizontal ones. The knots could be the same but the gloss is the prerogative of the carpet. For commercial spaces, various synthetic fibres are intermingled and felted. Then there are the tufted ones, the shaggy ones, the flat weave carpets, the plain weave tapestry and the embroidered varieties which are not woven on a loom but patterns are formed by stitches.

The primary weaving centres for dhurries are in Agra, UP, Jaipur, Punjab, Haryana and Kashmir. Kashmir Valley prides in manufacturing the crewel-embroidered namdas, gabbas and masnandas. Carpets there, play an important role for obvious reasons. They deliver the much-needed warmth and since the Kashmiris have a sit-down arrangement for greeting visitors and for having all their meals, the choice of colour, texture and thickness becomes important.

A Kashmiri living room has a wall-to-wall soft and plush carpet with bolster cushions on the sides. In the summer, a light cotton sheet with floral print covers makes it feel cool and it is called masananda. Small woollen rugs with colourful embroidery grace some corners and are called namdas and gabbas. The former is embroidery on a beige background and the latter is generally embroidered stitches on a dark background like black or maroon.

As a floor covering, the difference between carpets and dhurries is not much, except that the former has a luxurious feel, and its thickness is absent in rugs. Pretty rugs are fun to experiment with and one can keep changing the decor as per the mood and the requirements of the occasion.

There are improvisations in both by way of bold geometric designs or different textures. At times one also see beautiful rugs made with jute, straw, cotton and even canvas. Both come in bright and cheerful colours today, thereby satisfying the need for a radiance that is in keeping with the interior trend of the day.

Pinky Kapoor, a feng shui consultant, thinks that the centre space in a living room should be kept as free as possible, as this attracts positive energy,  and that rugs and carpets could be beautifully spread on the side of the rooms in multiple pieces.
The dim niches of one’s home can come alive with vibrant carpets or rugs, says interior designer Sunita Bannerjee. She thinks that big carpets dictate terms and setting becomes difficult. “I prefer three to four small carpets than one big one,” she says.

True, wall-to-wall carpeting in humid weather becomes tough to handle, but the elderly people in the house find it a big comfort, according to Chumki Patnaik, a homemaker in an extended family. She finds heavy carpets a big help for them. “Carpets provide relief for ageing adults, for whom a firm footing becomes important. They also reduce or eliminate reflected glare, which minimises disorientation and can reduce leg fatigue associated with walking or standing on hard surfaces.”

Lajpat Nagar in Delhi is a gold mine for attractive dhurries and small corner rugs, while the South extension area is a treasure trove for designer carpets.
Any which way, designer carpet or dhurrie, namdas or small rugs, the good old floor is spoilt for choice today.

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