Rugs of India: Zamin Carpets

Indian Zamin Oriental Rug
An Indian Zamin carpet by Yayla Tribal Rugs.

A familiar name resurfaces in India at this point in our story, Chris Walter. We have seen that Mr. Walter was the pioneer of natural dyeing in Pakistan and that, besides producing rugs in Pakistan, he created a natural dye production in Nepal — perhaps the only production there exclusively of natural-dyed rugs.

I only recently became aware that Chris Walter also brought to life naturally dyed rugs in India, beginning in 1992, just a year or two after Black Mountain Looms founded the first natural dye workshop there.

Chris allied himself with three Indian brothers who had not before made knotted carpets: Nabullah, Habibullah, and Ansari Aswam from Badhooi. Chris Walter taught them methods of rugmaking and dyeing that he had learned in his other projects. Together they began weaving rugs that Mr. Walter calls Zamin (with the accent on the second syllable.) By 1998 the rugs had matured, and today they are a wonderful addition to the renaissance in Oriental rugs.

There are two grades of Zamins: one has about 65 knots per square inch, the other about 100 (I have counted an actual 130 in one piece). Both are unquestioned bargains — likely the best buys in the world for naturally dyed, handspun-wool rugs and carpets. Theirs is 100% New Zealand wool — but with an important distinction. In the production of Zamins, New Zealand wool is received ‘raw’, then hand-carded and spun by hand.

No one recognizes these rugs as Indian; they look and feel completely different. Most Indian carpets are woven with very thick wefts, and thus have a stiff and heavy ‘handle’. Zamins also have huge body, but it is achieved by packing wool pile densely into the rug.

Zamins are eclectic in design, drawing inspiration from Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere. They are colorful, ‘villagey’ in character, and studies in natural dye. I could not recommend them more highly. The catch? There aren’t many of them.

Add Your Comment