How is our Tibetan wool rug made

One of the most sought after in the world, Tibetan rugs are praised for their thickness, softness and durability. Their rich colors and lavish patterns are greatly appreciated by collectors and interior designers alike. As works of art, Tibetan rugs have a high collectors and decorative value.

Every step of making a rug, from combing the wool, spinning it, to dyeing and weaving, requires great technique and care. All Oats & Rice Tibetan rugs are skillfully produced by Khawachen studio located in Lhasa.

Selecting the best wool

The first step of Tibetan rug making is to select and sort the unprocessed wool. This process tests the craftsmen knowledge and experience every time. They sort the best from the rest when trimming the hair. This is an essential step in the rug making process as the quality of the wool has a direct impact on the quality of the rug.

The difficult here is that even on one sheep, the quality of wool vary greatly. Long, straight and thick fibres are better than short and curly ones. But fragile ones are unacceptable regardless of length. Wool from the neck is the softest and thickest while that from shoulders is oilier and relatively cheaper. Every batch of wool needs to undergo a thorough inspection. Even the best quality spinning, dying, and weaving cannot produce top-class rug from inferior wool. An apprentice needs to learn for several years before they are able to choose the best wool on their own.

The best wool comes from the sheep living on Tibetan plateaus, higher than 4000 meters above sea. They are free to roam and grazes on the highland prairies. Their wool is pure in colour, thick, long, durable and naturally mercerized, which makes them easier to dye than regular wool. This superior quality fibre is the only wool Khawachen studio uses to produce Tibetan rugs.

Washing sorting and combing

Upon arrival to the studio, the wool needs to be washed, sorted and combed.

White strands wool are the most plentiful and most suitable to dye. They need to be separated from black and grey wool which won’t need to be dyed or will be dyed black.

Khawachen craftsmen follow the traditional way of hand-washing the wool and drying it in the sun. They then use wooden brushes to comb the wool into long, light and even fibres. Sorting, washing and combing are usually the first learning step for rug weaving apprentices.

Craftsmen will each hold a brush and strip the wool from one brush to another until the wool is soft and even. If the wool is not adequately combed, the yarn will be knotted and uneven. Properly washed and combed wool is fluffy, white and light as a feather.

Spinning the yarn

Even today, Khawachen’s craftsmen spins yarns by hand, using traditional methods passed on through generations. There are many types of yarn involved in the making of Tibetan rug. Carpet piles, warps and wefts are all very different from each other.

Carpet piles are usually spun from white wool, to be dyed later. Black and grey wool is usually spun into warps and wefts or it can also be used as pile yarn without dyeing, if the colour matches the pattern. Warps are usually thin and tight whereas wefts are thicker and looser. Rug’s quality is determined by the density and thickness of all these types of yarn.

Wool yarn dyeing

Khawachen uses only the top-rated dyes from Switzerland. Yarns are hand-dyed into uneven colours to express the layers and richness in patterns.

Tibetan rug weaving

Weaving is the most complicated step in making a handmade Tibetan rug. It requires knowledge and many years of experience. Most experienced craftsmen intuitively know the number of weaves, how and when to use a metal tool called Chakese to compact the newly woven yarn, or the best technique for buckling.

For buckling, Khawachen weavers use a tool shaped like the number 8. It is a special weaving method and one of the reasons why Tibetan rugs are so thick, dense and durable.

Before becoming a weaver, every apprentice has to learn how to knot different yarns and weave to achieve desired colours. They also need to know how to prepare the yarn, use all the tools and keep the quality of the weave consistent. Up until the last step, cutting off the rug from the loom, every step needs patience and care.

Finishing touches

The last two steps in the process of making a Tibetan rug are cutting around the edges and washing. Even in this step, great attention to detail is required, because different designs need different finishing touches.

Through the binocular lens, we often look at the snowy plateaus.

Have you ever wondered, how do kids living on Tibetan plateaus view their own lives? We have, and so we asked kindergarten children to draw scenes from their life.

These drawings inspired the designs for this collection of traditional Tibetan rugs. Only the most experienced weavers can reproduce the vivid images of child’s imagination. Master craftsmen replicate their lively style, making these pocket sketches of life colourful and authentic.

From villages to pastures, from forests to temples, every rug from our “Tibet Through a Child’s Eye” collection is a miniature panorama composed of unique episodes in highland life. The quality and level of detail will surprise you. This one of a kind collection consists of 10 designs. Each of which is woven using finest wool sourced from sheep living in Tibetan plateaus above 4,000 metres of altitude.