Though quite beautiful, Tibetan rugs or drumze that date back earlier than the 19th century are rare. They are known for their bold colors and patterns and would make quite a statement in a room otherwise dominated by pastels or neutral colors.
Rug weaving was concentrated in the Tibetan cities if Gyantse and Shigatse and Kampa Dzong, which was near the border with Nepal. There were also centers of rug weaving in U, Lhasa and the area around it and the provinces of Kham and Amdo.
Rugs were mainly woven by lower class men and women for use by the aristocracy. They were woven either in the homes of the artisans or in factories. Women weaved the rugs on looms, while men did the finishing. The rugs were also used in monasteries and as saddle rugs for horses and mules. These rugs were again for the aristocracy, since ordinary people were too poor to afford rugs. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the rugs were used for sleeping and sitting and were called khaden. Rugs called khagangma, which were small, square and fringed were placed on the khaden and used by the aristocracy.
Some Tibetan rugs were used exclusively in monasteries and were often long runners that were decorated with repeating squares. They were used as coverings for the platforms where the monks assembled and were also used as seat covers and backrests. Sometimes these rugs came in sets to cover the thrones of the high lamas. Larger rugs called saden were made to order and used to over floors, to hang in doorways or to wrap around columns.
Tibetan rugs are not only known for their bold designs and colors but for their cut loop technique, which is only found in Tibetan rugs. They’re usually made exclusively of wool with a high pile, which makes them heavy and luxurious to touch. Tibetan rugs also have a red cloth backing.
Many Tibetan rugs are dyed with vivid aniline dyes and the ground colors can be red, blue, orange or black with designs in orange, red, pink, yellow, beige, shades of blue, white and green. Motifs include large peonies and lotuses, dragons and phoenixes, cranes, lions, bats and vases full of flowers.