Pakistan Rugs

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Pakistan rugs became a fairly strong element in the country's economy particularly in the last half of the 20th century. During the known 5000 years of Pakistan's history, it was part of India for about only 700 years. More than 500 of these were Muslim, about 100 years Buddhist (Mauryan), and another 100 years Christian (British).

Pakistan has looked more west than east, both commercially and culturally. Pakistan rugs are consistent with this direction. Rug making first came to Pakistan about the time it came to India, during the 16th century. The first weavers were Persians. Perhaps because of this, and the country's strong western-oriented predisposition, rugs making did not develop a uniquely Pakistani character. Pakistan, however, is the fourth largest rug exporter in the world today. Both design and manufacturing methods are still borrowed.

Pakistan Rugs in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Two rug styles predominate in Pakistan today. Almost without exception these are made of wool on cotton foundations. The first are consistent with the Persian Kerman, Kashan, and Tabriz designs. The other, centered in the Lahore area of northern Pakistan, embraces the famous Turkmen Bokhara design. Interestingly the city of Bokhara is Afghan, not Turkmen. It became associated with the rugs because it was a trading center where the Turkmen rugs accumulated.

Two other styles are also worth noting. European designs, specifically Aubusson, are beginning to be produced in Pakistan. Another is Persian in style but features modern elements and is proving especially popular in the United States. These Pakistan rugs are called war rugs. The design elements they feature include tanks, guns, and helicopters instead of medallions or geometric flowers. At the same time, the dyes are natural, the knots hand tied, and the colors the traditional deep blues and reds.


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