Rugs of India
In 2000, India exported $190 million worth of carpets to the United States.
Yet rug collectors and even some rug dealers know little about the rug industry in India.
Like Pakistan, India is not generally supposed to have a rug-making tradition.
No such misunderstanding should survive the superb exhibition of Mughal carpets of the late sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries mounted in 1998 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Though Mughal rug designers were certainly influenced by Persian court rugs, they also appear to have emulated the designs of textiles native to northwest India.
Mughal carpets are not merely Persian rugs woven in India; they have their own discernibly Indian look.
Even after the Mughal Empire crumbled, weaving continued in India. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw a large production of Indian rugs and carpets in Agra, Amritsar, and elsewhere. But most contemporary rug connoisseurs deemed them corrupted by Persian influence and by Western demand, and unworthy of study, so that these carpets were passed over in books. Like earlier Mughal rugs, they were clearly influenced by the rugs of Iran, but, again, they have their own look, in part due to an unusual color palette and not-quite-Persian designs.
Because almost nothing was written about them, it is now nearly impossible to determine exactly where Indian carpets from the turn of the century were woven.
As it happens, they are among the most desirable and expensive rugs in the decorative rug market today, but scholars, dealers, and owners have little hard information about them.
Fact: In India, rug quality is sometimes measured in terms of knots per square inch.
A 9/9 Jaipur, for instance, has 81 knots per square inch. But it is often quantified in a different system where a typical knot count could be 7/52. To covert this to knots per square inch, multiply 7 by 52 and divide by four. The result is 90 knots per square inch.