Tibetan rugs are the ancient and expensive cultural assets of the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau. The discovery was recent with the British raiders entering the plateau in 1903 where they found several rug workshops owned by the local aristocrats. The length is typically small to medium-sized and is used for sitting and sleeping purposes. A sleeping carpet is known as Khaden and measures around 3 x 5 ft. Tibetan carpets and rugs were used as alternatives to the fur and animal skin, they are typically prepared by spinning and weaving sheep’s wool. Their uses include floor covering, wall hanging, and horse saddles.
Tibetan sitting rugs are the most expensive and take a lot of time to completion, the traditional designs include Gau, the oldest one that are used for sitting, and khaden for sleeping, the tiger rugs are the recent of all the famous designs. The tiger rugs were used as presents and offerings to the lamas as tiger skins were rare and hence unavailable to meet the need. The wangden rugs are composed of softer and loosened fabric with a lower knot count. The wangden carpets are thicker and laxer, the name is derived from the place they are weaved from; they are only woven in the Wangden Valley.
The colorings and textures are unique from the South Asian variants of rugs. In early 20th century, the natural dyes used were madder, indigo, and yellow colors as the dominant ones. Other local plants were also used to dye the rugs with brown and grey variations. Afterwards, Tibetan started using synthetic dyes in the late 1900s. The designs were geometrical shapes and floral illustrations, dragons and phoenix shapes. As of today, the Tibetan rug industry is flourishing in North India and Nepal with exports reaching billions of US dollars, the latter’s economy thrives heavily on carpet exports.