Indeed, why has InnerAsia/Khawachen, producer of premier made–to-order Tibetan rugs, introduced a collection of hybrids? And, what exactly what does “hybrid” mean? Good questions!
The genesis of our hybrids actually began 5 years ago at Khawachen, InnerAsia’s Weaving Center in Lhasa. A customer who owned several nga-thaks, or made-to-order rugs, from Khawachen, wanted to give a gift of Khawachen carpets to her son and daughter-in-law for their new apartment. She talked to me for a long time and finally posed the question, “Would you ever consider producing a line of Khawachen carpets that has all the appeal of a hand knotted Khawachen rug that I love so much, at a more affordable price for younger folks just starting their first home?”
She raised the question I had been thinking about for some time and her words inspired me to swing into action to make this a reality. I knew that in addition to making the beautiful hand knotted rugs we have been weaving for thirty years, we needed to find a way to make beautiful rugs and affordable luxury available to an even wider audience.
I gathered our key master craftsmen and we began to have exciting and lengthy discussions. We concluded that if we devoted the same passion, “sem-shook”, or heart-power, to every step of the way we prepare the yarn, are mindful of the “drim” or right amount of twist to the yarn, and finesse the dyeing process to achieve texture and vibrancy, we could produce a hybrid rug using a much bigger, faster Axminster mechanical loom as the final step in the weaving process. Please be reminded that the highly coveted original Arts & Craft carpets in the 1870s were produced with these same Axminster mechanical looms.
Our first batch of hybrids arrived and the rest is history. They were enthusiastically received with highest praise from our most discerning customers and master weavers and we have been making both hand crafted and hybrid rugs ever since!
One of the comments I want to share with you is from a respected master craftsman with a lifetime of experience in the handcrafted rug industry. He said it all, “Chola, if you hadn’t told me this rug was from your new hybrid, machine woven collection, I would have assumed it was a new handcrafted design made by your master weavers at Khawachen!”
We are proud of our hybrid collection but what is more satisfying to me is that we can offer these beautiful rugs to our customers at a third of the price.
Our Lhasa lady was elated and so are we! We fondly call these rugs our hybrids because they truly are a perfect blend of the passion and attention to detail we apply to our handmade rugs and the efficiency of a mechanical loom. We at InnerAsia/Khawachen look forward to seeing our handcrafted and hybrids rugs flourish side by side and are happy to offer our customer even greater choice.
Our master weavers are big fans of our hybrids and greeted them with smiles of satisfaction and approval when they first saw them. They are, after all, the proud and creative artisans who made this innovation possible.