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Tibetan Rugs

Ancient Rug Making Culture -
Handmade Tibetan Rugs


Tibetan rug making is an ancient art and tradition of the nomadic people, who made rugs originally for their personal use – from floor coverings to horse saddles. Tibetan carpets were influenced more by tribal culture than Persian or Turkish design. What is unique about Tibetan rugs is that everything is virtually done by hand. Tibetans used wool from the tribes’ sheep or other animals, which created long, high quality shiny strands of yarn. The rugs are woven by wrapping a continuous length of yarn over a rod laid across the warps stretched on the loom. When the rod has been wrapped for its entire length, a knife is slid along the rod, cutting the wrapped yarn into two rows of pile tufts. Additional distinguishing characteristics of Tibetan rugs are their vivid colors, huge and few motifs, and relatively plain and dominant backgrounds. The background colors are primarily blue, black, red, and orange. The motifs are woven in red, orange, pink, yellow, beige, blue, green and white.

In the early 1950s, when Chinese communists occupied Tibet, the Tibetan refugees fled to India and Nepal and brought their unique rug making expertise with them. Today, the rug making business is one of the largest industries in Nepal.

Types and styles of Tibetan rugs are categorized by their design, such as medallions, flowers and rosettes, mythological animal motifs, and geometric. Medallion designs are characterized by one or three central medallions with multiple borders. The medallions are typically square surrounded by flowers, or round with flower inside. The flowers can be lotus or peonies. Rosette- and floral-design styles either have two or three large flowers in the center with borders or flowers scattered throughout the entire carpet with no borders. The mythological animal and bird designs include the dragon, the phoenix, the white Manchurian crane, the bat and the bee. Sometimes they come in a medallion layout or are in an all-over layout. Usually there are no more than four of the shapes in one rug. The geometric designs, which are less frequently seen, come in a paneled, all-over layout with flat-looking flowers inside either square or diamond cells.

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