|One need not spend too much money on expensive carpets to get the elegant effect, says Radha Prathi.|
|No homemaker worth her salt will reject the idea of spreading a luxurious Persian or Kashmir hand-knotted carpet to enhance the elegance of the living room of her home. Yet when the matter is considered at the practical level, most of them let go of the idea because it is too expensive or is simply not feasible to have such a lavish piece of furnishing in a pigeonhole sized flat. Also, the presence of small children continuously poses a threat to the well-being of such a precious investment. Whatever the reason, one need not necessarily lose heart because there are a number of alternate carpet options.
A brief reflection on the subject will unfold a wide spectrum of unique and ethnic choices of eco-friendly spreads woven by our indigenous weavers in a variety of locally available grasses in several shapes, sizes and colours. The market of woven grass mats will amaze you with products available at one hundredth the price of an expensive carpet.
These floor spreads are light and easily maintained. They can be dusted on a regular basis, if you happen to spill something over these mats you can handwash them with water. Their sheen can be restored whenever necessary –perhaps once in a decade by applying a coat of varnish.
Some of these mats may not offer a soft fluffy feel to your feet like a regular carpet but will certainly keep your feet from getting cold and will provide an ethnic ambience to your home.
The date palm leaves woven into mats in all the states of south India have a golden hue. They are sometimes dyed in bright conventional colours like magenta, violet or green in portions to highlight the design either on the surface of the mat or at the borders.
The Patthamada variety of mats woven from reeds of bamboo grass is a hot favourite among south Indians. They are usually used as bedding that can be spread on the floors but they can make exotic looking floor mats.
They are very light and last for a lifetime despite constant use. These mats are multipurpose in their use. They can double up as a seating arrangement when you have guests over and can also be used as extra bedding. Children can use them for their activities on the floor.
Their weightlessness makes it easier to roll it up when it is not in use or when the floor is being cleaned.
When travelling in other parts of the country, you could look out for the special woven mats of the region which are quite akin to the locally available ones both in terms of longevity and looks.The Punjabis weave their magic carpets from the locally available Sarkanda grass while the Kashmiri weavers exhibit their talent by weaving the nimble twigs of the willow trees. The peasant families of Uttar Pradesh have made weaving their monsoon grass into mats as a source of extra income.
There can be no doubt that any of these mats spread on the floors of your home will highlight your place. Some varieties of mats like the golden coloured Sikkiri from Bihar, or the bamboo mats from West Bengal and Assam can be bought at their respective emporiums and government outlets in major cities.
If you plan on lines of alternate carpets you could actually make a fine collection of eco-friendly mats that display your penchant for national integration through the décor of your home for a very reasonable sum of money. You will also have the satisfaction of having patronised our Indian weavers. In fact, when you spread them in turns, make sure you spread a good word about them too.