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Green Revolution and Handmade Rugs by Farzan Navab

Kuba Cloth
 
Nettle Rug
Kuba Cloth


Nettle Rug

In our latest travels to India and Nepal we also discovered that rug manufacturers are being incredibly inventive with the types of fiber they are using. Of course the mother of all plant-based fibers, cotton, has been used for centuries. Rugs made from jute, which is less common, have been around for at least a hundred years. But who would have thought that you could make silk out of banana stalks or make weaving yarn from a nettle plant? Recently a manufacturer sent me an effusive email claiming to make rugs from such exotic materials as “water reed, sisal, keshab, plub, okra, hysenth, rifya, etc!”
  Given today’s environmental concerns, plant fiber rugs make perfect sense. Not only are they less expensive to produce, but they are also eco-friendly, contributing nicely to the practice of sustainable agriculture and economics.

Materials and Textures
Each fiber provides a slightly different texture. None provide the feel and texture of wool. Nettle and hemp for example are not soft while jute is an even tougher fabric. Banana and bamboo silk, however, are very soft, even softer than real silk. To provide an overall smooth texture rug makers sometimes mix these fabrics together.

Design Elements
Because of the relative roughness of these fibers they tend to be used mostly in simpler, less intricately designed rugs. Using them in modern and contemporary rugs works well. Many plant fiber rugs seem to have drawn inspiration from African Kuba cloth motifs or Moroccan Berber rugs.

 

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