The art of weaving developed in this region a long time ago. Excavations in
Mohenjo Daro and Harappa have revealed that the inhabitants used spindles.
These civilizations first developed the use of woven textiles. Carpet weaving is
thought to be introduced by the Muslim conquerors, the Afghan Ghaznavids and
Ghaurids. During the Mughal era, royal craftsmen adopted Persian techniques
and designs for carpet weaving. It is during this time that hand knotted carpets
became renowned worldwide and began to be exported abroad. These carpets
were in high demand due to their distinctive designs and high knot densities. The
carpets woven in Lahore were valued by Europeans as far back as the
seventeenth century. Today, Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan produce a large
portion of the hand knotted rugs of this area, and they constitute the second
largest cottage and small scale industry of Pakistan.
The weaving process is quite complicated and tedious. Looms of wood or iron are
commonly used. The loom is constituted of two vertical poles with two horizontal
bars across. Threads of cotton or wool are stretched across the loom vertically.
Weavers tie colored yarn to the warp and then cut it with a knife. This tying and
cutting goes on and on continuously in rows until the final pattern emerges. After
the weaving of each row of knots, the row is beaten down with a comb to impart
solidity and thickness to the pile.
Many different kinds of hand knotted carpets are produced across Pakistan. The
Pak Persian variety is inspired from Persian designs and is woven using the
Senneh knot. The Bokhara carpets utilize the Ghiordes knot and are available in
multiple shades, ranging from the lightest pink, to a deep vermilion. The Jaldar
type also uses the Ghiordes knot, but the designs are inspired from Sarouk and
Yamud patterns. The Pak Gebbeh carpets are unique because they sport
contemporary designs and are constructed from a mixture of Ghiordes and
Senneh knots. Other kinds include the Chobi, Caucasian, Lahore and Shal, each
with their distinctive patterns and ways of making. These carpets are produced all
over Pakistan, with the major cities being the major centers.