Behind the scenes of A Mughal Painting

Written by: Lynn O'Rourke



Time to read 4 min

We recently shared the inspiration behind our newest addition to the Wendy Morrison Design hand-knotted rug collection, A Mughal Painting, which you can read about here. We also want to shine a light on the production process A Mughal Painting goes through in her journey to become a work of art for floors. Every stage of production is carried out manually, with love, care and attention to detail, and we are in awe of the craftsmanship of our wonderful, skilled, artisan team in Nepal.

Nepal began producing high-quality rugs in the early 1960s, when Tibetan refugees arrived in the country, bringing with them traditional hand-knotting weaving techniques. Since then, the high quality of rugs made in Nepal has been celebrated worldwide. Nepali carpets made from wool and silk are famed for their hand-knotted technique, high pile density and eco-friendly production.

Understanding the amount of work and the time it takes to produce a rug helps to explain why hand-knotted rugs are such investment pieces. Hand-knotted rugs are expensive because all the work is done by hand. On average, it takes four master weavers, all working together, 90 days to complete a single hand-knotted rug.

For example, a 335cm x 244cm hand-knotted rug comprises around 1,910,876 knots; a line is hand-knotted then a line of weft inserted before the next line of knotting. The weft thread holds the hand-knotted lines together and makes them even stronger, which is why a hand-knotted rug can withstand more traffic than machine-made carpets, without signs of wear, making it incredibly durable.

The first stage in the production process is Wendy’s design. ‘The horse, which always holds a special symbolism for me, is at the heart of A Mughal Painting, set in the middle of a natural world, elegantly stepping through grasses, surrounded by exotic birds, flora and the colour of the sky. This design is very much a celebration of all my favourite things,’ she explains.

‘The intricacy of this design made her a natural fit for the hand-knotted process, with shimmering silk threads highlighting every colour against a soft, wool base. Hand-knotting is incredibly labour-intensive, but the results are fantastic, bringing every detail to life. We hugely appreciate the skill and talent of the artisans we work with. Quality is the focus, resulting in heirloom pieces that can be passed down through generations.’

Design map

Once Wendy finalises her design, it is turned into a computer-generated graph, called a galaincha file, to be used much like a ‘map’ for the weavers, with motifs defined, and the colour of every knot specified.

Before work begins, the raw fibres that will be turned into yarn are cleaned, sorted, straightened and teased into individual strands by hand, ready for spinning. Wool and silk are natural fibres that are renewable, long-lasting, and beautiful.

Sustainable choice

A Mughal Painting, as are all Wendy Morrison rugs, is made from Tibetan wool; because of wool’s built-in lanolin coating, it is naturally stain-resistant. Wool is also hypoallergenic, and feels soft and gentle underfoot, which is perfect for luxurious rugs.

Wool absorbs more dye than synthetic materials, so designs appear more vibrant and stay that way. Silk, a perfect partner for wool, beautifully highlights pattern, detail and colour; its amazing lustre always looks wonderful, and feels incredibly soft and luxurious underfoot.

Because they are made from natural fibres, hand-knotted carpets are biodegradable. The small, family-run, rug-making business where all our hand-knotted rugs are made in Nepal keeps wastage to a minimum, with additional material resold or reused.

Tibetan Knot Process

A Mughal Painting is made using the highly-skilled, labour-intensive, Tibetan knot process, with hand-carving used to define delicate details in silk. Each knot is created by hand. It is time-consuming, but this process has been renowned for generations for producing the finest-quality rugs.

Our silk and wool yarns are dyed by hand in small batches - which helps maintain colour standards - using traditional pot-dyeing methods. Nepal’s sunshine is relied upon to dry the yarns naturally, which gives the colours a special lustre.

Hand-knotted rug weaving is carried out on a loom, which has a huge wooden frame strung with ‘warps’ to create tension, with ‘weft’ threads then woven through horizontally to form the structure. After weaving, every detail of A Mughal Painting is hand carved using scissors, sharpening each line and motif. The contrast of silk’s sheen against wool enhances the design, while carving defines details for a high-quality finish.

''We hugely appreciate the skill and talent of the artisans we work with. Quality is the focus, resulting in heirloom pieces that can be passed down through generations.’'


Final stages

Following her complex creation, A Mughal Painting goes through several practical stages, including being washed several times to remove any dust that has built up during production. The washing also helps soften the hand-knotted rug, making her feel even more luxurious.

A Mughal Painting is then stretched on a frame to dry, which deepens the colours even more. After being laid flat, the pile height is carefully clipped with large, flat-bladed shears. This is followed by a final scissor clip, to remove any lingering uneven threads.

Quality checking by our wonderful team in Nepal is ongoing at every stage, before A Mughal Painting is ready for binding. The final stage sees her edges beautifully bound by hand, simply using a needle. The underside of the rug shows the intricate individual knots, highlighting the craftsmanship that goes into the making of A Mughal Painting.

A rug that weaves the past and present, and shares the beauty and importance of the world around us, A Mughal Painting is a combination of traditional skills with modern creativity; she shares an uplifting message and beautiful imagery that we hope sparks joy and spreads happiness for decades to come. And shines a light on the incredible craftsmanship of the artisans in Nepal who work with us.

Order a sample of our beautiful new design A Mughal Painting here. Or contact our wonderful team to book an virtual/showroom appointment, discuss an order or recieve a custom quote.