Kharad (Sindhi word for carpet) weaving is an ancient traditional craft native to the region of Kutch, Gujarat. Beautifully hand-woven carpets in either sheep wool or camel hair are a treat for any lover of traditional crafts.
The Maldhari and Rabari pastoral communities used to shear the hair from camels and goats for the hand-spinners who specialized in making wool out of them. The kharad artisans then used this wool. Traditionally, kharad was spread on the floor as a carpet or as a khurjani which is kept on the back of a camel to carry heavy load. They used to roam the villages of Sindh (which is now in Pakistan) to sell their products.
Also known as dhurrie, the kharad adorned many palaces in Sindh and Gujarat. The kings and ministers were fond of them because of their very distinctive look, strength, and longevity. A hand-spun wool kharad can easily last up to 100 years.
The technique is quite complex as it requires weaving using two sticks working as a loom. At present, kharad dhurries provide a super-exclusive and unique décor to one’s bedroom or living room.
It is a dying art, and only 18 families from Kutch still practice it. This is because many of the local linkages have completely broken and local communities no longer buy kharad products. After the partition of India, the artisans lost the highly lucrative Sindh market. The kharad artisans feel that if the customer was educated about the process (only 3-5 kharad pieces can be made in a month) and the longevity of the carpets, the market could expand and many artisans who have abandoned the craft would come back.