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HIGH STYLE

AROUND HOME : Notes on Fireplace Equipment, Dhurrie Rugs and Mirrors : Dhurrie Rugs

December 04, 1988|DAVID LASKER

LACKING POLISH AND refinement, dhurrie rugs bring a dash of country life into the home. Indeed, when it comes to fashion on the floor, no other carpet so epitomizes the spirit of our throwaway culture: Dhurries are inexpensive and last about 7 to 15 years. They also jibe with the current trend toward natural materials such as verdigris coffee table frames instead of polished chrome, burlap and grass cloth coverings, rattan furniture and floors of well-worn brick. And the dhurrie color palette--grayed, dusty tones seemingly washed with desert sand--exemplifies the California look.

Don't expect to see Indian dhurries auctioned at Sotheby's or Christie's, where Persian carpets from towns such as Qom or Tabriz can fetch six figures. As India's ancient "no-name" handicraft, the dhurrie is woven throughout the country. The smooth, hard, pileless weave makes them quicker and cheaper to make than rugs with a pile.

What usually determines a dhurrie's price, and softness, is the amount of New Zealand wool mixed in with the native cotton. Regardless, dhurries compare favorably in cost with broadloom--whose factory origin and frequent synthetic fiber composition lack the dhurrie's character and charm. Practicality is another dhurrie strong suit. Lacking even a backing, the rug can be reversed (a practice that extends the rug's life). Occasional washing can enhance a dhurrie, much as a Madras shirt's originally raw colors bleed with laundering to give the garment a richer, subtler appearance.

Unlike makers of other Asian rugs (whose patterns reflect centuries-old traditions), dhurrie makers are happy to weave whatever their buyers commission. So recent dhurries show a surprising range of inspiration aimed at cashing in on the current revival of early 20th-Century modernism. Sources range from Eileen Grey ("authorized" versions of her rugs cost several thousand dollars) to jazzy, abstract Russian Constructivist compositions. More curious are the Navajo eye-dazzler blanket dhurrie look-alikes--in other words, an East Indian adaptation of a century-old Southwest American Indian design. To update Rudyard Kipling, east meets west and ever the twine shall meet.

Pier 1 Imports offers a selection of dhurries ranging from about $90 for a 4x6-foot rug to about $200 for a 6x9. Dhurrie rugs are widely available throughout Southern California.

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