Agra formerly sent out very satisfactory rugs which were of great weight and thickness. The finest specimen I have ever seen belonged to the late Mrs. Potter Palmer, of Chicago, and was a duplicate of one owned by Mrs. Frederick D. Grant. The rug is of enormous size and weight, and the tree design is arranged in shades of exquisite blue upon a field of delicate fawn color. The border, in the same coloring, gives the most perfect harmony to the entire rug. Many more Agra rugs would be imported, but there is now a United States law prohibiting the importation of goods made in jail.
Allahabad Rugs are similar to those of Agra, but the latter are as a rule preferable.
Amritsar gives employment to over twenty thousand men and boys, and supplies the market with some of the finest of modern Indian rugs. Leading English and American firms have factories located there, and for that reason rugs brought into the Occident from Amritsar are reliable. They are firm in texture and have fast colors. The manufacturers realize the importance of these attributes in a rug, and their own responsibility in the matter.
The Dhurrie (Durrie) is a strong, well-made rug of cotton, often in stripes of blue, brown, or gray, with narrow yellow and red lines. Some Dhurries end in a fringe, and are square. In India they are largely used by the foreign population, and in the United States they are especially appropriate for summer time. They are made chiefly at Agra, Cawnpur, Delhi, Lucknow, and in the vicinity of Bombay.
Ellore rugs belong to the inexpensive class, but the designs and colors are pleasing. As they are made chiefly of fibre mixed with wool, they are not durable.
Formerly Haidarabad sent out rugs famous for their beauty, with designs in the forms of medallions, filled with flat floral ornaments and woven with wool ‘pile on a cotton foundation. But the modern Haidarabad by no means compares with the antique.
Faipur rugs are generally made in the schools of art. They contain many Persian designs representing animals and the cypress tree. The borders are floral, and the field is generally ivory, red, or blue.
Lahore, the British capital of the Punjab, has rugs woven in both wool and cotton, and the work is done mostly in jails. The designs are Persian, and the texture embraces from forty to one hundred knots to the square inch.
Madras rugs are chiefly made in large quantities for commercial and export purposes.
Masulipatam rugs were once noted for their beauty, but now many of them are poor in design and workmanship.
Mirzapur rugs are sometimes wrongly sold for Turkish, which they somewhat resemble. The antiques are very durable, but this cannot be said of all the mod-ern ones, the vegetable fibre that is used in part in the construction of them not being durable. Few are exported to the United States. The colors are often black, orange, or grayish-white.
Moodj is the name given to a coarse, hardy mat, suitable for the veranda. It is made of buffalo grass, which grows six to twelve feet high in India. This is harvested, the fibre extracted by pounding, and then it is twisted into rope or yarn. Afterward it is dyed.
Multan rugs have large geometrical figures in octagons, medallions, and circles. These rugs are very lasting. Their general coloring is dark red and blue. Sometimes a really beautiful modern Multan is discovered. Occasionally an emerald green or a yellow alternates with the usual reds and blues, and again we see a white ground with blue designs. The modern ones are not largely imported into America. The antique Multan is very fine, but scarce.
Mysore rugs are cheap and not interesting.
Patna rugs are usually in blue and white; in quality they resemble the modern Multan.
Pushmina rugs have their name from the manufacturers, who thus designate rugs that are woven of pashim.
Sindh rugs are the cheapest and least durable of all Indian rugs, and on this account not many are imported into the Western market. The colors are green and orange.
Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir, makes very beautiful rugs from the finest wool. This is soft and silky, and as natural dyes are employed, the Srinagar rugs, as well as many other rugs from the northern portion of India, are highly valued. Antique rugs of this character are attractive in soft tones of rose and yellow.
Warangul rugs. At Warangul, in the eastern part of the Deccan, modern rugs have been woven for the past sixty years. The designs are chiefly Persian, with a strong Indian influence. To show the beauty and delicacy of some of the old rugs, I may mention that one was made at Warangul, in the sixteenth century, which contained 3,500,000 knots on its entire surface, or 400 knots to the square inch, and the designs were so complicated that a change of needle was required for every knot.
Leading importers now give names to designate the different qualities of India rugs, and therefore the name borne by a rug does not necessarily indicate the district in which it was woven. For example the Dhurrie rug is woven in several districts of the northern provinces.
( Originally Published Late 1900’s )