Indian weaving boasts a long tradition that gave birth to one of the most beautiful carpets ever seen. Unique Hindu aesthetics resulted in vivaciously-colored textiles and original patterns which are just as loved nowadays as they were in the past.
However, among those jewels of weaving art, unique, seemingly looking out of place pieces are hidden – Amritsar rugs. Amritsar rugs are produced to this day in Amritsar, a region located in the northwest of India. What makes them so interesting is the fact that Amritsar weavers did not have a distinctive style until the early 19th century, relatively late compared to other regions of the country. At that time, exotic art became extremely fashionable in London, as pride in the influence of the British Empire and enormous wealth that was pouring into the United Kingdom from its colonies created a market for luxurious oriental art in all of its forms. In order to make their good more attractive for Westerners, weavers started to imitate European patterns, opposing to traditional designs preferred by artisans in other regions. In the end it worked in the favor of Amritsars after demand for Indian carpets in both Europe and United States grew rapidly. Westerners seemed to prefer familiar forms and shapes over exotic ideas. The style of Amritsar rugs is easily distinguishable from classic Indian solutions. They were meant to be seen as luxurious goods, so their weavers used mainly the highest quality wool and cotton foundations, topped with double wefts. Most popular patterns seen in Amritsar carpets are elegant and curvy floral motifs, made using subtle earthy hues with small splashes of stronger burgundy. Even nowadays Amritsar rugs are highly desirable among collectors, mostly because of their varied patterns and color palettes. They remain a proof of Western influence in India and are studied by scholars all over the world.