Kashmir’s gift to the new Parliament House: 12 hand-made silk rugs

Srinagar: Young Sikina cupped her ears to catch each word of the old master weaver as he read out aloud the design from the ‘taleem’ and a herky-jerky rain fell on the tin roof of their handloom unit of Khanpora village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

She ran her fingers on the vertical loom with a sense of pride and accomplishment: she was among 50-odd men, women and youngsters working on a dozen hand-made Kashmiri silk carpets for the new Parliament building in New Delhi. Sikina and the other weavers have every reason to be proud. They belong to Budgam’s famed heritage of carpet-weaving — the finest weavers who produce hand-knotted rugs of impossibly high 2,400 knots for each square inch. For the uninitiated, it’s like pixels in photography. Higher pixels make crisper images.

From afar, the ornate 8x10ft carpets Sikina and her crewmates made look like a blur of colour. A closer look reveals geometric patterns and unmistakable shapes of flowers and other elements of nature. These hand-woven pieces exemplify a traditional Kashmiri craft once patronised by Mughal emperors and maharajas.

Kashmir’s carpet industry has preserved an age-old tradition, providing income to thousands of weavers. The carpets for the new Parliament were being washed and would be ready soon. Wilayat Khan, the loom owner who was contracted to make the 12 carpets in November last year, said: “I have a September deadline for delivery.”