Carpet weaving in Gwalior is done in twos or threes by the skilled craftsmen. The knots made by them on their vertical loom slowly transform into elaborate designs of vibrant colors and strong motifs. As the carpet evolves through different stages, it assumes an admirable number of expressions. The master craftsmen themselves draft all the designs for the carpet. The designs are mostly symmetrical and are deciphered on the loom where they materialize into pixilated patterns through knotting. Warp for at least two to three carpets of a singular design is stretched at a time.

Raw Materials

A large percentage of raw material suppliers also double as master weavers who supply these raw materials to other master weavers. They are quite affluent and well versed in their craft and trade. This way, the trader holds about 60-70 percent of shares in his business of yarn supply and production.

Cotton: It is mainly sourced from Haryana. Sources also vary as per the kind of cotton thread required for the warp and weft. For the regular quality, the thread used is 6/6 and is sourced from Rajasthan. The stone washed one, which is 12/20, is bought from Delhi. Mostly both of these are procured from dealers and not produced by the weavers.  

Wool: It is the primary raw material used to knot into the weave. Wool is sourced from Bikaner and Amritsar. The two main types of wool are handspun and the mill-spun wool.
I. Handspun: This is pure wool procured from the markets of Bikaner and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. This type of wool is used for durries that are colored using vegetable dyes. This wool is not of uniform gauge as it is handspun.
II. Mill spun: This too is pure wool, procured from Panipat and Bikaner. In durries made with this kind of wool, normally chemical dyes are used. This is cheaper than hand woven wool and is of uniform gauge. 

Viscose: This is sometimes used instead of wool. Viscose is sourced from Panipat and Surat.

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Waste

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Tools & Technology

Taana Machine: The Taana machine is used to spin and organize the threads for the loom. It is made of two basic parts - a big octagonal horizontal cylinder that rotates on its axis and a vertical frame on which a number of thread rolls can be attached. 
Loom: A vertical loom is used by the carpet weavers of Gwalior. The loom is believed to have derived its design from the Tabriz loom of Iran. The vertical frame of this loom is made up of two horizontal beams of wood or steel. The first beam is almost two feet above the ground and the second one is about six feet from the ground. The looms are quite simple, unlike the usually complex ones.The beams are fastened using a screw and chain mechanism. The upper beam is movable and the length of the beams changes according to the dimension of the carpet to be woven.A Reed is a horizontal metallic frame through which the warp threads pass. This keeps the threads sturdy, straight and at a uniform distance from each other.The 'Kamana' is a V-shaped wooden frame where the ends are bound with a tight piece of rope. Of the two layers of the warp (Taana), one remains on the outside and the other remains inside. The Kamana is used to interchange these positions if needed.The Kamana is attached to the beam, just above the reed, using two pieces of bamboo called 'Ruchch'.
Panja: It is a comb-like instrument to ensure that the threads are compacted and firmly positioned in the matrix of weaving.
Patti: A flat tool used to beat the carpet so that all the knots and threads settle uniformly.
Dhoori: A locally devised apparatus for cutting off the excess threads which stick out once the weaving is done. 
Faavda: A tool used to polish the fully woven carpet so that the surface is evened out.

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Rituals

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Process

Designing: The designs are sketched on a graph paper by the craftsmen, with the help of a basic grid as the reference. Colors and shades are also detailed out on this paper. The grid helps in keeping the designs symmetrical as they grow and spread on the paper.

Dyeing: Natural pigments were traditionally used to dye the wool but since it was time consuming, the craftsmen now buy pre-dyed wool for carpet weaving.

Threads for weft: After the yarn is dyed, it is normally delivered in bundles. In this case, the thread needs to be untangled and stretched to make them tighter. A charkha or spinning wheel is used for the reeling. This process is not required if it is dyed in factories since the weavers receive them in rolls. 

Warping: The master weaver uses the Taana machine for warp making depending on the requirements of his design. The threads are fed into the vertical frames in the desired pattern and color combination. In this movable frame, the ends of the threads are taken from the rolls and fed through another grid-like frame that guides the thread. This is wound on an octagonal cylinder according to the combination. Once the entire cylinder is covered, it is passed on to the weaver who feeds it into the loom for further work.

Fixing the loom: On the vertical loom, the warp is set such that at least 2-3 copies of the same design can be created. Two or three people work together and knot the threads to the required designs. The knots are called 'Persian Knots', named after their birthplace.

Weaving:The two layers of warp which is bound on the two beams pass through the Reed while weaving. There is a small bench before the loom, facing the warp, on which one or two weavers sit and work. The number of weavers depends on the width of the carpets.Since there is more than one person weaving, the communication or mutual instructions become very crucial. They sit together on one side, facing the loom. The graph paper, on which the design is made, is present only with one of the weavers. That weaver takes a look at the graph paper at regular intervals, and voices a particular term to the other weavers. This term means a particular kind of design or knot in the weave, which has to be worked on or replicated by the other weavers. A few examples of the terms are: 

Byayi: The color that lies below needs to be repeated on the top.

Bachcha: The knot that comes on the right side of the line below needs to be repeated.

Chala: the thread in front needs to be worked on eg. chala lal, chala neela etc In sequence, these terms are pronounced to get the weaving process done symmetrically. It is almost like a sing song language of codes only the weavers understand.To aid the process, there are markings made on the warp, which guide the weaver about the location of a particular feature in the design. After a row of weft is woven, the weavers beat it and use the 'Panja' to comb, so that it gets compacted to the warp. Once this is done, the weaver interchanged the layers of the warp using the Kamana and Ruchch. This locks the weft between the two layers of warp, making the carpet more strong and durable. 

Polishing: After weaving, the carpets are immersed in water for 8-10 hours and left to dry. This is done so that the knots settle down uniformly.  Later, the fabric is washed and cleaned with chemicals to strengthen it. The 'Faavda' is used to polish the surface till it evens out. 

Clipping: The carpets are then sent to the Clipper, who clips off the protruding threads and knots using shears to give them a smoother finish. These days, the craftsmen also use electrical cutting machines and tools.

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