A hand-knotted carpet woven from wool and cotton yarn, galeecha has its origins in Amritsar, Punjab.
In the early-nineteenth century, following the transfer of rulership of Kashmir to Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, several Kashmiri carpet and shawl weavers migrated to Amritsar under the Maharaja’s patronage. He set up a number of workshops across Amritsar that were run by Kashmiri weavers and this, along with the availability of fine wool in neighbouring regions, allowed for the development of the galeecha.
Woven using the Persian knot technique, the woollen yarn is knotted around the individual threads of the cotton warp. Prominent designs comprise off-white geometrical and floral patterns on a deep red, green or ivory base, derived from Persian and Bokhara designs. The weavers work with a coloured naksha, which acts as a reference for designs and patterns.
In 1851, following a display of Indian handicrafts at the Great Exhibition, London, there was an economic surge in carpet sales and numerous British companies opened up in Amritsar. However, post-independence, the craft form gradually declined and became economically unsustainable, primarily owing to the introduction of power looms.
Today, there are no Galeecha weavers in Amritsar, and the few remaining weavers are scattered in villages surrounding the city. At present, the industry is controlled almost exclusively by exporters and therefore, is dependent on specific designs commissioned by them. Consequently, there has been a marked difference in the motifs used on the fabric; for instance, carpets being exported to the Middle East often feature the mihrab motif.
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Hosure, Sanmati. “Jaykat Galeecha.” Accessed August 18, 2021. https://www.dsource.in/gallery/jaykat-galeecha.
Mrittika Craft. “The Carpets, Rugs and Dhurries of India,” April 3, 2017. https://mrittikacraft.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/the-carpets-rugs-and-dhurries-of-india/.
Reflect India. “Galeecha – Wool Carpets.” Accessed August 18, 2021. https://reflectindia.in/punjab-galeecha/.
“The Jaipur Garden Carpet.” HALI, March 30, 2020. https://hali.com/articles/the-jaipur-garden-carpet/.