Spinning wool for carpets at Khawachen Carpet Factory, Lhasa ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn
A newly produced, high quality Tibetan carpet made of top-grade wool is like walking on warm whipped cream. They are as rich in colour and traditional culture as Tibetan furniture and possess an earthy, eccentric quality that is quite unlike Chinese carpets (however beautiful they are too!). They also come in unusual shapes: butterfly-silhouette saddle rugs or rugs that were specifically made to fit around a piece of furniture or monastery pillar, small to be used as chair cushions or prayer rugs and bedsize to be placed on top of a sofabed. All good quality rugs are handmade and use non-toxic dyes. Tibetan rugs often carry Buddhist iconography and many borrowed patterns and motifs from China and India, but tweaked to make then uniquely Tibetan. Besides the tiger-skin patterned carpet that most will immediately recognize as Tibetan there are other traditional patterns that look surprisingly modern: rainbow stripes or checkerboard squares, frog stencils, dots and geometric checks.
Two producers of superb quality Tibetan rugs that follow all the rules of fair-trade and green product are:
Khawachen Carpet and Wool Handicraft Co. Ltd
(Kawajian Ditan He Tangmao Gongyin Youxian Gongsi)
Jinzhu Xilu 102, Lhasa, Tibet
Khawachen has a shop in New York and at the Beijing Lufthansa Centre. Check out their "Gangchen" selection of purely Tibetan patterns.
Beijing 86-10-6465 3388 x5542
Shanghai 86-21-5404 4886