A Brief History of Mughal Carpets

Mughal Empire MiniatureCarpet weaving was brought to India by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century and are known as Mughal carpets (or Moghul/Mogul carpets). It is said that when Babur came to India, he was disappointed by lack of luxuries there. He missed the luxuries of Persia, which included the Persian carpet. Akbar laid the foundation of carpet weaving tradition in India, in 1520 AD, when he brought some carpet weavers from Persia, at his palace in Agra. With their support he established carpet weavings centers at Agra, Delhi and Lahore to facilitate production of Persian styled carpets, which were inspired by designs from the Persian cities of Kirman, Kashan, Isfahan and Herat.

Indian empire flourished in northern India and a part of its southern region from 1526 to 1857. It came to an end, when its last emperor, Muhammad Bahadur Shah fled into exile from the English to Burma. The Mughal Empire was ruled by six emperors: Babur (1526-1530), Humayun (1530-1555), Akbar (1556-1605), Jahangir (1605-1627), Shah Jahan (1628-1658) and Aurangzeb (1658-1707). The shah Akbar was particularly fond of art, including that of fine carpet weaving. During the construction of the city Fatehpur Sikri, Shah Akbar organized numerous art workshops. His craftsmen adopted Persian techniques and designs to produce fine carpets for their Mughal lord.

Mughal carpets were as intricate as their miniatures and often depicted court life, animals and floral decorations. Mughal carpets were brightly coloured and the hand knotted silk carpets had 4224 knots per square inch. Some of the most exclusive carpets were created during the Mughal reign for the Mughal emperors and their courts, each carpet unlike the other but infused with a common magic of colours and design.

Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.