Thursday, July 30, 2009

Agra again ...

The Delhi Mission has had a tradition of allowing elders who have completed their mission, or are close, to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. In part to deflect any thoughts of taking a long Preparation day and heading down on their own. Sister Tanner and I volunteered to accompany Elder Swanborough and Elder Chilumula to Agra for their visit, maybe the last any of the elders will make. The mission budget is no longer there to support the trips. This was our third time in Agra. It held some surprises we had not expected. Since we funded the car to go down, we decided we could also determine who would fill the empty seat and invited Robin from our branch to go. He had never been and was so excited to go with us.

One of the elders remembered a carpet factory in Agra that other elders had gone to, so we asked and found where it was. We went there and after a tour, Sister Tanner and I stayed while the elders and Robin went to Agra Fort for an hour. We had been there before and were not exactly excited to be out in the sun for another hour plus.

Inspiration for carpet designs comes from many sources, but it is almost all of ancient origin. Here is a master designer working freehand on a design.

Those learning the design trade, work at putting colors to the designs already prepared.

The amazing part is to watch a weaver work magic. No pattern to follow, just in his head, and the speed that the hands move is unbelievable. Again, I am feeling duh!! because I did not think to take a video.

The pattern gets built up along a row before it is compressed. That is a knife in the right hand that is used to cut the wool yarn once a knot is tied. Knots are tied along the row using a single color at a time.

This is a shot of the back of the loom and you can see the knots that have been tied so far using different colors of yarn in the pattern.

The Cottage Factory prepares the designs, the yarns to be used, etc. and then gives them to thousands of artisans who have home looms. Once a carpet is completed, it is delivered to the Factory where the showroom is and sales are made.

I knew how much Sister Tanner wanted a real, quality rug/carpet, and buying a dining room rug at Home Depot was not what she had in mind. When the elders and Robin left, we stayed in the showroom and continued to look at rugs/carpets. I don't know exactly what name to use for the hand loomed real deal. Knowing how much she wanted one, I had worked to set some money aside and hopefully surprise her some time. Little did I know the opportunity would come on this trip.

After almost an hour, we had looked at tens of designs and sizes and were down to 2 carpets that were equally beautiful. It was then that I told Sister Tanner we could buy one and she was absolutely speechless. She couldn't decide between the two, but eventually made a choice. It is referred to as the most perfect design in terms of symmetry. Each corner of the carpet mirrors a quarter of the center so that each quarter of the carpet is also a duplicate of the others. It took 2 people 14 months to weave the carpet we purchased.

A corner shot and the one that follows is a close up. The last shot is of the center and you can see the pattern at the left in part of the center design.
The photos do not even begin to convey the beauty of this carpet. For example, there are 4 shades of green in it, but I don't think you can even tell there is green in the pictures.
The center of the carpet.

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