Touch a dhurrie rug, and you immediately feel the difference between it and a conventional carpet. A dhurrie doesn't have a pile, those wool, cotton or man-made threads that stick straight up and give a rug its depth. Dhurries are flat. You won't see knots, as in Persian or Oriental rugs, and they have no backing, making them reversible. The style is also known as flat weave or kilim, but only the dhurrie rug originated in India.
Made in India
The dhurrie rug woven centuries ago in what is now India, Pakistan and Afghanistan was more functional than decorative. Nomads who were housed in primitive surroundings, often with dirt as the floor surface, used the rugs for protection and warmth. Lightweight, reversible and easily stored, dhurries were the first movable flooring. As customs evolved, the rug-making center of Rajasthan, India used rug-making techniques and patterns that were passed down through generations. Made of cotton or wool, occasionally silk or jute, the weave of a dhurrie can be loose or tight, depending on how it's woven.
The Flat Weave
A loom has threads running in two directions: the warp, the threads that you see strung on the frame of a loom, runs lengthwise through to the fringe; the weft is the thread that is run over and under the warp, creating a weave. The design of the dhurrie is created by the weft.
Prior to Great Britain's colonization of India, dhurrie rugs were simply designed. As the British settled into the vast country, rug weavers took notice of the bold Victorian designs woven into British rugs. These new design influences opened the market, and Indian weavers began to incorporate the more elaborate designs into their dhurries. Competition was also introduced when the British introduced machine-made rugs. The industry faced another shake-up when The Partition of India, in 1947, caused a migration of Indian people. With them went their localized rug-making skills and designs, and the dhurrie rug lost its individual, geographic-based identity. Today's dhurries are still hand-woven, but they are also made by machine; the distinction is difficult to decipher.
Like the nomads of thousands of years ago, dhurries are multi-functional and easy to maintain. That there is no nap makes them easy to clean or vacuum. They're perfect for a casual beach home as they can be picked up, and the sand shakes right out. They're also useful on a cool night when you can actually wrap one around your body for extra warmth. The lightweight construction and variety of designs easily turns them into wall art, and they are made in a variety of sizes that fit any room.
Downside of Dhurries
Be careful if you place a dhurrie directly on a wood or tile floor; the flat-weave construction makes them slippery, and you and the rug could sail across the room. Secure the rug with a thick mat underneath. A pile rug is good for hiding stains and dirt, while a flat weave boldly announces any spills, stains or tracked-in dirt.