How It Began
In the 1970s American rug importers began to take note of the Himilayan rug tradition centered in Nepal. It featured very simple designs, skilled weavers and fabulous wool. American rug designers saw the situation as a blank canvas and contemporary rug design was born. Some rug professionals estimate that Nepal now contributes 20 per cent of the world's hand-knotted rug production.
For the last six years this production has operated in the shadow of a very precarious political environment. We are hopeful that a recent election with the Nepalese turning out in record numbers is going to alleviate the tension there and allow the rug business to prosper.
"We will have better working environment after the constitution is written," said our friend Nawang from Katmandu. "We are more optimistic in the future. No there is no other countries where Nepalese production might move now because people tried during war time and they failed. They tried china and India but failed."
Good! The world would be a worse place without this center of production and creativity.
A Quick Overview
Here's a quick look at some examples of contemporary rugs in the Himilayan tradition.
Anything goes. Here we see floral as well as distinctly ornamental heraldry designs. The foregrounds are rendered in bamboo silk, giving them vivid prominence.
Worn patterns. Here you can see a fairly complex all-over pattern disrupted by seemingly "worn" spots. This technique appears very often in contemporary and transitional rug design.
The brooding endless stone gray of the Himalayas is interspersed with patches of green. The designer of this rug has captured that atmosphere in this completely abstract rendering of nature.
Opposite from the above, this design conveys the order of a man-made overall pattern rendered in soothing neutrals in wool and silk.
Vinery is a popular design element in the Himalayas. These simple marigold colored flowers are raised higher than the surrounding pile and crafted in silk, giving them a life-like pop.