Panja weaving plays a crucial part in glorious weaving tradition. They are mostly used for making dhurries. They are light woven rugs which are used as kind of floor covering. The craft gets its name from metallic claw which is known as Panja. While carpets are heavy, dhurries are woven and not knotted which makes them light and usable.
Dhurries are versatile product and they have wide variety of uses. The uses are depending on size, pattern and material. They can be used as
- Table mats being small in size
- Known as yoga mat as they are in moderate size.
- A large dhurrie can be used as mats for political or social gathering.
- Dhurries are used as floor coverings but can be used as wall hangings due to attractive and intricate patterns.
- As their maintainable cost is low, they don’t get infected by pests and insects like silver fish that often affect carpets.
- Versatile product which helps in keeping warm during winters and it has cooling effect in summers.
In craft history, dhurries were dismissed as poor man carpet and always underestimate its value. It became popular due to its abstract patterns and contemporary design appeal.
They have unique feature as it can be used reversible which enhances its functionality. They are lighter and wearing method is flexible and create more varied designs.
This art is practiced by women in the house and method of weaving provided better flexibility and creates more designs. The craft of dhurrie are horizontal craft bars which are used by hand weaving. This set up help to practice the craft efficiently. Dhurrie uses two basic technique –
- Punja technique require a simple set up
- Traditional pit loom with fly shuttle is complicated wearing technique
- Cotton is mostly hands-spun by women.
Dhurrie craft is traced back to ritualistic floor paintings in India. In India, drawing patterns on wall and home floors are believed to be powerful religious charm which would remove negative energies from home. The patterns are drawn as prayer to please deities and pray for protection from enemies. The floor decoration is used in different religious festivals and are known as rangoli, Mandsna and kolam.
Palm trees, reeds and other dried foliage are used to make floor covering as they have qualities like water resistance, cooling capacity and easy storage. Painting made in 18th century depicts a striped indian culture.
- Patterns and motifs are geometric in design.
- Wide range of designs exist which has inspirations from local architecture, flora and fauna.
- Stripes, geometric variations, sprawling wines, peacock are mostly common designs in dhurries.
- One can see popular takes and stories being depicted in dhurries.
- Dhurries of Madhya Pradesh conventionally have pinkish background with bright red colour patterns.
- Motifs are also separated by black or bright red colour lines.
- Skill of craftsmen are judged by complexity in motifs like neempatti motifs.
- Surajmukhi motifs are surrounded by flowers and leaves and are popular motifs.
- Due to decline in demand of the craft, the craft is losing its value.
- Many craftsmen families are moving to profitable business.
- Labourers are paid very less which makes these dhurrie craftsmen lowest paying profession.
- The third generation has moved to another skill or business which gives them respectable salary, respect.
- Large number of dhurries have reduced.
- Crafts is being revived but it will take time to get its full potential.