Have you ever wondered how the area rug in your home was made? The methods used to make area rugs are as wide and varied as the many types of area rugs themselves.If you are lucky enough to own a Tibetan area rug, more than likely the rugs was handmade in India or Nepal. Although machinery is used in making some Tibetan area rugs, your rug is much more valuable if it is handmade, although a hand loom will still be used to ensure the design is perfect.
The most common material for these rugs is changpel - a type of highland sheep's wool. Traditionally, a Tibetan rug is a small, rectangular sitting rug. Because of this, the fabric is a bit more sturdy than a soft, comfortable rug that one might use to pad an interior room. Some Tibetan rugs are larger and are traditionally used for sleeping. This type of rug is called khaden. In recent years, however the industry has expanded to begin making the larger, softer area rugs that are found in most well decorated homes.
Tibetan rugs are made using a knotting method to weave the rugs together. Tibetan rugs are made on hand looms that are first "warped" with cotton. This means that the cotton is stretched across the loom lengthwise. Then, the rug maker pushes a metal rod across the warp and then loops wool over it to make a pile. The number of knots in one pile determine the quality of the rug - more knots per pile usually mean a softer rug. Once this is done, more cotton is stretched over the loom from top to bottom, in rug making, this is referred to as the "weft."
The weft is put in place to separate the pile. Then, the rug maker will use a wooden hammer to compact it. After that, the rug maker will slit sharp blades across the metal rod to complete the pile. This entire process makes one tiny row in the entire rug. The rug maker will repeat the process until the rug is completed. The ends of the weft are sometimes left hanging from the top and bottom of the rug to form tassels and sometimes the rug maker will choose to simply knot the rows to the top and bottom to secure the rug design.