Kharad – Weaving Legacy Through Traveling Rugs
Kharad weaving - a bespoke work of art that cannot be duplicated; somewhere in the frays of the carpet lies the ancestry of an intricate technique. Suffice to say that a kharad is an heirloom piece.
Like all forms of traditional textiles, kharad has roots in being the product of and basis for a strong ecosystem. The hair from the animals that forms the basis of the yarn, the nomadic loom on which the weaving is done, the vegetable dyes that are used to colour and design the kharad weaves are all products that are sourced from the artisan’s communities. This ‘all hands in’ approach is what gives the art form its name, “Kharad”, meaning ‘by hand’.
Kharad has a robust history that does go back to the time pastoral communities in Kutch region in India in which they sheared hair from their camels, sheep, and goats to weave beautiful, sturdy rugs, carpets, bags, and mats.
Kharad weaves were used to create three kinds of mats and bags that would be used by travelers for their journeys on camel backs. They were sturdy, comfortable, and beautifully showcased the patterns through rich colours (think ivories, charcoal blacks, crimsons, deep ochres, etc.) Slowly, royalty took notice of this art form and started commissioning elaborate rugs for their palaces. Throughout this transition from camel back to palace courts, the aspect of the community sustaining the art form stayed strong.
They say that legacy is as legacy does. Kharad started back in the day when nomads needed something sturdy to help their journeys be more comfortable. The craftsmanship that spawned now creates rugs that can last up to 100 years.
Tejsi bhai, member of one of the two families that still do Kharad weaving, seems confident about when Kharad began. “It started since the time man and animal communed together.”
Today, Tejsi bhai is not very optimistic about the future of this art form. Demands for boutique kharad weaves are few. However, he has been to the International Carpet Fair in Georgia to showcase his pieces and raise awareness of this handicraft. Why it is essential that we honor this art form that sustains a complete communal way of working and living.
A piece of kharad weave is like having a kind of an Aladdin’s carpet – it comes from the bloodline of nomads, from the trails of travelers, and with stories of a world seen in glaring heat and desert skies. To have a lost world woven in tapestry is its own kind of enchantment.