Today I’d like to tell you more about the carpets from the region of Changthang. Since last year we are working on these carpets and are including them in our home textiles. In the local language they are called “Tsug Den”. Its name is made of the words Tsug (from tsug-ches: putting something on the ground) and den (mattress).
A Tsug Den on the ground in the tent of nomad of Kharnak. At the back, hanging down is a Tsug Dul, a blanket.
The classic size is 90cm x 175cm, however this can vary and one can find Tsug Dens in many sizes depending on the use. The remarkable thing about these carpets is that they consist of panels which are about 30 to 40cm wide. Once the required panels are woven, they are stitched together at the back and made into a big Tsug Den. In the past they were entirely made from wool, whether sheep or yak wool and occasionally naturally dyed wool. The weavers of the Tsug Den, always female, picked the nicest wool of their animals for their Tsug Den. In today’s age a predominant raw material for the warp is cotton and in the weft you can often find acrylic chemically dyed yarn.
The back of a Tsug Den after washing. The white warp is made from cotton and the colorful elements in the weft are from chemically dyed acrylic.
Two typical "flowers" often found in these carpets. A flower is "mentok" in Ladakhi.
In Changthang, the people use the Tsug Den as a mattress – to sit and sleep on. Bigger versions, such as the Tsug Dul are used as a blanket and usually measure 190cm x 210cm. There are also smaller options which people use as gifts, to meditate on, to sit on or nowadays, to put it on the car seat. Over the years I have seen carpets which were more than 60 years old, with everyday use and still, in the nomads’ tents lasting. Here is an example of Rigzin Butik of Kharnak, Changthang.
One of Rigzin Butik's Tsug Dens. This one is with sheep wool in the warp, it is the thick brown yarn that stands out. The wool of the weft has been sat on many times and starts to disappear.
As mentioned before, the weaving culture of the Tsug Den has changed especially in the last decade. The weaving is only rarely practiced by young women as it no longer fits the lifestyle of the settled nomads. Also, ready-made carpets are becoming more popular and as a consequence, the craft becomes less practiced. When I first discovered the carpet weaving of the Kharnak people I was fascinated. It was something I had never seen before. Beautiful and abstract patterns, often a random arrangement of the carpet, some ends longer than others… When we started taking up the weaving of carpets for our collection, we wanted to create a blend of the traditional weaving and designs with contemporary designs which we think to look interesting on these carpets.
From February 2017 when we first started to weave the traditional carpets with our team in Ladakh. This is a Tsug Dul, a big blanket which weighs almost 10 kilos.
Tsering Yangzom is weaving one of our first Tsug Den with sheepwool in the weft and cotton in the warp.
This year we revived a very beautiful element of the carpets: weaving a carpet entirely made from wool. This is no longer practiced as the warp is always cotton because it is a faster process. However, we wanted to weave with only wool, all coming from the nomadic community in Changthang. So we challenged our weavers and requested for the carpets to be in 100% wool. The result is amazing and this is a great step towards revealing the original way of weaving the local raw material.
You can see our carpets and discover the 100% wool mats here – each piece is unique and only exists once. You can preorder them now and they will be delivered to you mid to end October! And of course, there will be other interesting textiles coming and we can’t wait to share them! If you have a special request about this weaving and our carpets you can get in touch.