The Tradition of Tibetan Rugs

Of Wool And Loom

interior design mag
book review by Stanley Abercrombie, Interior Design Magazine

Of Wool and Loom: The Tradition of Tibetan Rugs

by Trinley Chodrak and Kesang Tashi
Trumbull, CT: Weatherhill
160 pages, many color illusttrations; $48

Said in the foreword to be "the first book written in the English language by Tibetans about their marvelous and ancient rug tradition," this is a handsome and readable survey of the subject. Co-author Kesang Tashi appears to have done for the Tibetan wool industry what Jim Thompson did for the Thai silk industry, reviving an ancient craft, improving a local economy, and producing beautiful goods. Along the way he assembled a collection of old rugs and a great deal of knowledge. The first part of the book concentrates on the historic uses of the Tibetan rug - in tents, houses, and monasteries, and not only as floor coverings but also as cushion covers, horse covers, temple pillar hangings, and collars for dogs and yaks. Materials and techniques are also explained. The larger second half of the book is a sumptuous display, all in color, of the traditional and modern Tibetan rug designs. There are also a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.

Reprinted from Interior Design Magazine, June, 2001
© 2013 Sandow Media LLC.


The beautiful pair of Classic Tibetan Floral rugs on page 98 OF WOOL AND LOOM  were woven in Gyantse, Tibet in 1920 and are now part of  the Newark Museum permanent  collection.  Tibetan weavers translated this design from Chinese brocade into a standard 3 ft by 6 feet size rug.  I decided to rework the scale and design of this motif into room size rugs of  varying sizes that would be more versatile for the American homes. These photographs show room settings of Classic Tibetan Floral in red and blue. Both of these rugs will undoubtedly become family heirlooms and collectors' items.


from page 98
from page 98


Tibetans are known for their love of floral designs and passion for color, as this excerpt from OF WOOL AND LOOM  page 107, demonstrates. Tibetan weavers refer to this as the Pema Chuni or  twelve  lotus design which captures the Tibetan love of lotuses and its strong association with Buddhism.  The Lotus is a much used symbol of hope and purity and emerges out of mud to become a beautiful blossom that personifies perfection and purity. We can excuse Tibetan weavers for taking a little license in the correct identification of this flower. Our interpretation of this design,  shown in a rug we produced for a New York brownstone, is more accurately called "Chrysanthemum Field" 

from page 107
from page 107
from page 107


On page 114 in OF WOOL AND LOOM,  we introduce the use of rusts, orange, gold and other colors favored by monks and other high lamas.   Stylized clouds are a beautiful and recurrent motif in art and textile design in throughout Asia. The hand woven rug in this room setting shows the casual, understated elegance of our interpretation of the swirling cloud motif .  Feel free to inquire about InnerAsia's Swirling Clouds and Tibetan Sky designs. Both are available in a wide range of brilliant and more subdued color options.


from page 114


In this excerpt from OF WOOL AND LOOM, on page 125 I have focused on Tibet's rich heritage of beautifully woven saddle rugs. These stunning saddle rugs were used for ceremonial and daily use by members of the aristocracy, the Calvary and nomadic horsemen and represent some of the most complex and beautiful examples of Tibet's weaving tradition. I am excited to announce that InnerAsia is developing a collection of Tibetan Saddle Rugs that capture the best in traditional Tibetan Saddle Rug design and draw from many of the exquisite antique saddle rugs found in the Newark Museum's permanent collection. These new saddle rugs, as well as hand crafted felt horse padding we are also developing, will be designed for both English and Western riders and connect the horsemen and women of the US  with the famed horsemen of  Tibet.  


from page 125
from page 125

Of Wool and Loom:  The Tradition of Tibetan Rugs, an authoritative book on Tibetan Rugs now available at Innerasia's online store