Monday, April 4, 2011

Rebirth........doing our part to preserve a piece of India history.

The origin of the carpet is probably one of the most well kept secrets in the history of mankind……it is actually where the legend begins.

What is known is that it came from ancient Persia……..the family of carpet weavers, while not well known, crafted some of the most perfect carpets………the perfection was the result of the time they took to produce a carpet by hand…… every five years……….sometimes more……….their shop was their home…..small….just barely enough room for the work on the carpets to be done and for the family to live. They literally lived among their work…….giving even more understanding to how much passion this family put into producing carpets with such meticulous detail.

This carpet was acquired by a prince who had discovered this small village after being lost for several days in the nearby desert. Of course, with all visits by someone of royalty, the villagers bestowed many gifts on the young prince for days……..while in the village for several days replenishing his stores so that he and his party could continue their journey, one of the princes servants learned of this family of carpet makers. He was told of the beauty and workmanship, something that had not been witnessed before and he demanded an audience with the carpet maker.

However, the family refused to see the prince and ignored the summons…….of course this did not meet the prince’s ears with favor and he demanded that the carpet maker and his family be forcibly brought to him and for the rugs that were in his possession be brought to him, including the unfinished carpet that was being produced on the very crude loom that was in his shop.
Word spread quickly through the village about the prince’s anger and the fact that the prince had ordered his soldiers to confiscate all of their possessions, yet the carpet maker and his family did not fear the young prince’s wrath and very calmly and patiently waited for the impending visit.

Neighbors urged the family to pack their possessions and flee the village while there was still time……..others offered to hide the rug on the loom………which was believed to be the most beautiful of all the rugs the family had produced thus far……………but the family refused to move.

The soldiers arrived as planned……….and carried out the orders of the prince………finding only the carpet on the loom…….which was truly a masterpiece in the making.  The carpet maker and his son, who was his apprentice, were imprisoned by the prince and were taken along with the carpet to his palace some several hundred miles away from the village.

His wife and daughter were left behind, thankfully unharmed, and remained living in the small home in the village. 

The prince had promised to release the carpet maker and his son once this carpet had been completed, which was estimated to take an additional three years……………surely the thought occurred to the carpet maker that he could speed the process up by not being as quality oriented, but as a matter of pride, the man and his son were determined to complete the carpet and to ensure it did not have any flaws……three years in captivity was a small price to pay when the alternative was producing a carpet that he could not be proud of…………the prince would have his rug……..and he would win freedom for he and his son.

However, upon the untimely death of the king, the prince found himself ruler of a much larger kingdom and his thirst for power made him become even more evil. 
The day had come………almost three years to the date that he was removed from his village and his family………and the carpet was complete. He and his son had worked tirelessly many nights by the light of an oil lamp……..their hands and fingers cramping from the endless days of working on the rug. The muscles in their legs grew weak from being deprived access beyond the four walls of the cell they were imprisoned in…………they had accomplished their task and were ready to receive the kings blessings and be set free.

The carpet maker and his son had been ordered by the king to present the rug to him in front of his most favored of guests that had gathered for a banquet. It was to be a truly special evening for the king…………. The king sat high upon his throne in the grand room……next to him was his new queen….……the carpet maker and his son were given the opportunity to get well groomed and were given some newly made clothing for the occasion. The carpet was rolled and wrapped in a beautiful cloth and was now ready to be presented and unveiled to the king for his admiration.

The time had come………the carpet was proudly carried by the two carpet makers into the center of the room. It was placed on its side…….meticulously unwrapped and then unrolled before the king and his queen………………the room was filled with sounds of admiration from all in the room…………..and then the king raised his scepter and the room became quiet. The king stood and proudly told the story of how he had had become the recipient of such a fine carpet…………..he told of the carpet makers imprisonment and the fact that he could rule powerful over any such subject in his kingdom.

While no one is sure of the exact words spoken by the carpet maker, what has been passed down is the following; there he and his son stood in the center of the room facing the king and queen and surrounded by the kings guests. Silence filled the room once again when the carpet maker began to speak. He stated that he was very comforted to know that the king was pleased with his work and thanked the king for giving him the opportunity to produce what he believed to be the finest rug that he had ever made. This made the kings chest swell and his ego just as much, but the carpet maker did not stop. Much to the kings dismay, the carpet maker reminded the king of his promise of freedom upon completing the carpet ………..a promise that was once made by a prince turned king……….the king was not amused at the carpet maker embarrassing him in front of his guests…………..the room was suddenly being filled with whispers from the crowd, which made the king even more furious as he felt as if he was slowly becoming the laughing stock of his own guests.

His anger reached the boiling point as everyone in the room was awaiting to hear what this king was going to say in response to the words of the carpet maker………….and then he spoke……..”Freedom is just another word for nothing else to lose………now, return to your cell and lose yourself for another 5 years and make a matching rug for my new queen”.  

Meanwhile, in the village, the carpet makers wife had fallen on bad times………the little money she had from the sales of previous carpets had been slowly depleted….and while she had had enough to survive while her husband had been away…………slowly over the years, when he hadn’t returned she was forced to sell what belongings she had to survive.

One of the last things to be sold, after lying for nearly 40 years on the floor of their humble home, was a carpet that her husband had made for her many years before. The carpet had managed to escape the looting by the soldiers as they did not believe it to be of much worth………..worn thin from  the many footsteps that passed in and out of their small home……….the edges were gone…threads were bare and holes had developed in several of the traffic areas.  But to her it was a prized possession she was now being forced to let go for whatever price she could get. She simply needed the money to survive and the carpet was sold to a merchant who dealt in used items for almost nothing.

The carpet remained in this family of merchants for generations………….laying unwanted by many people due to the poor condition it was in………..after a journey of almost two centuries, the rug founds it way into the hands of a carpet dealer here in Delhi who specializes in restoring old rugs to their original condition.

He has assembled craftsman from Kashmir who have honed this skill over many generations from  their forefathers……….they use the highest quality of material hand dyed in Pondicherry using the methods that were used when the rug was originally made……….and the threads are matched to include the same consistency of wool and other natural fibers. Like all stories of kings, queens and palaces, the story must have a happy ending..........while the rug merchant does not know the fate of the carpet maker and his family, one thing to be happy about is that the carpet will be restored to its original grandeur and will be cherished for many more generations to come………… will be nice to have our own piece of history to bring back to the United States one day.

I hope you enjoy!

1 comment:

Every Day is an Adventure said...

Love this story....we have a rug from Riaz that looks very similar to this one. Now, I wish I had the story that goes with ours.