For this years London Design Festival, we are holding a Dhurrie Exhibition at Guinevere. The exhibition, which is currently open at our showroom on the Kings Road, celebrates the variety of patterns and colours of dhurries, and is accompanied by text, which explores the history, manufacturing techniques and symbolism behind the different dhurrie designs.
In India, dhurries play an important role in everyday life. These flat-weave cotton carpets are functional and decorative. The variety of colours and the simple designs make dhurries very appealing. They are suitable for use in classic or contemporary schemes, and are extremely durable.
They became popular in Europe after the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in London, 1851. This major industrial exhibition promoted manufactured products and international trade. In the Indian Pavilion a huge ‘tile’ design dhurrie was hung up on the wall. We have examples of this design on display.
As British influence grew in India, dhurrie manufacture entered a new phase and thus, the period between 1850-1930 was the finest and most creative era of dhurrie production.
Our stylist Dean (aided by the muscles Raffi and Julian) transformed one of our rooms by covering as much floor, wall and ceiling space with a patchwork of striped, geometric, floral, pictorial and medallion dhurries. A fabulous 19thC Anglo-Indian ebonised four poster bed, some beautiful sari covers, cushions and lampshades, different coloured mosque lanterns hang from the ceiling, and an Indian painting of a Jaisalmer Lady . The room now looks like explorers have come back from India with all of the colour and patterns you would expect.
We love it! – and it is a great way to display the dhurries, which are usually all rolled up. The exhibition encourages people to touch and interact with the dhurries; to feel the different texture and softness of the weave and the surprising weight of the carpets.
For the exhibition, we borrowed a selection of really special and unusual antique dhurries from private collections. One of my favourites is this pictorial dhurrie, from northern Deccan, c.1910, which is composed of dark blue peacocks, light blue peahen and parrots. Highly decorative dhurries, such as these, would have most likely been commissioned by a wealthy family. In the centre of the dhurrie a peacock looks out directly at the viewer, displaying his plumage in an act of courtship ritual. The fertility symbols in the design implies that this dhurrie was part of a dowry, and its size suggests it was a bed dhurrie. Definitely worth a visit in our opinion….