Reflection, Imitation, Experience
Indian Carpet Export: 2014 – The True Land of the Magic Carpet
Carpets through the Ages
The presence of woolen carpets in India was recorded as early as 500 BC. References to woven mats and floor coverings can be found in ancient and medieval Indian literature. From the beginning, wool or silks have been the basic material for knotted carpets. The most famous of them all — pile carpets — came to India during the reign of Akbar in the 16th century. The craft grew and flourished in the country, blending with traditional Indian styles. Chinese and European patterns, with their mythical characters, also influenced the art of carpet making in India. Calligraphy also found its way into carpets, as well as other art forms, at that time. The country’s carpet weavers have grown artistically over the ages and Indian carpets are renowned for their exquisite designs, elegance, attractive colors and workmanship. In fact, Indian carpets are today considered to be the most technically accomplished classical carpets.
A Carpet Perspective
Today, India is the world’s largest producer and exporter of hand-made carpets, both in terms of value and volume. In fact, around 90 per cent of Indian-manufactured carpets are exported and are known the world over for their excellent design, fascinating colors and quality. In 2013-14, the total value of hand-made carpet exports was US$ 1,037 million. Exports have grown from US$ 737 million in 2009-10 to US$ 1,037 million in 2013-14, at an average rate of 8.9 per cent. Seven types of hand-made carpets are produced in the country:
- Hand-knotted woolen carpets
- Tufted woolen carpets
- Gabbe woolen carpets
- Hand-made woolen dhurries
- Pure silk carpets
- Staple/synthetic carpets
- Chain stitch rugs
Most of the carpet manufacturing is concentrated in the northern parts of the country, in the towns of Bhadohi, Agra, Jaipur, Srinagar and Danapur.
Indian hand-made carpets are exported to over 100 nations with the United States being the largest importer; in 2011-12, around 40 per cent of the country’s hand-made carpet exports were to the US. India has dominated the US carpet market over the last 10 years, emerging as the most preferred carpet supplier to the US over all major carpet exporting nations, including China, Nepal, Turkey and Pakistan. Germany was the second-most significant export destination in 2013-14. UK and Australia, Italy, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Argentina are some of the other export destinations for Indian carpets.
There are about 2,500 carpet manufacturers in India, most possessing certifications such as Rug Mark, Care and Fair, Kaleen and Wool Mark – all of which signify quality and ethical production.
Carpets Flying High
It can be said that the Indian carpet industry is presently going through a major change. Traditional markets are saturated while new markets are offering opportunities for growth; for instance, modern designs and low-end varieties such as hand-tufted carpets are attracting a whole new customer base.
Indian hand-made carpets are characterized by handsome colors, quality raw material, skilled workmanship, intricate weaving and fine finishing. In addition to creating exquisite products, the carpet industry also boasts of a large labor pool. Consequently, India is strategically positioned as a high volume, cost-effective producer of a wide variety of carpets. The greatest strength of the Indian carpet industry, however, is its dynamic nature and ability to evolve with the times. For instance, recent years have seen Indian manufacturers focus on supplying customized products, a trend that has served to further augment product demand in the global market.
Exports of Handmade Carpets and Other Floor Coverings (from 2009-10 to 2013-14)