The center of Kathmandu is this octagonal-shaped town "square" with the prayer Stupa in the middle.
Carpet washing in Nepal. After weaving all of the carpets are washed by hand and then laid flat to dry in the sun. At this elevation the air is so clean and the light so intense that all of the colors are amazing.
Even this modern design is still finished by hand. After the carpet is washed and dried craftsmen scissor and rough spots in the pile clean with these purely archaic looking shears.
In India at a carpet studio in Raipur. The building was originally built by the British in the 19th century as an indigo plantation and was converted to a carpet studio in the 1950's. Today yarns are dyed and washed here for preparation for weaving carpets.
A carpet designed for Carol Piper Rugs- just finished drying and in the process of being finished with hand scissoring.
Reitmeyer sitting on some of his proud creations in Nepal.
Hand scissoring a finished carpet, the final step before the carpet is ready to ship.
A small Hindu shrine erected in Varanasi. The color speaks for itself.
A grove of Mango trees on the grounds of one of the carpet workshops that that Reitmeyer is using to design a collection of hand-woven Mohair rugs.
Effervescent saffron flowers in the lounge of the Hyatt Kathmandu.
Prototype sample of a Moroccan patterned-carpet that just finished up from loom.
Pure white Himalayan wool, spun into carpet yarn and drying in the sun.
Rug expert Ryan Reitmeyer, managing partner at Carol Piper Rugs, has been traveling to South Asia for years to buy antique rugs. However, on his most recent trip, he went with a different objective. He and his partner, Carol Piper, are creating an exclusive line of original rug designs for the shop. We stowed away as his travel companion in spirit, and here is the road map for his journey.
RYAN’S NOTES ON THE GROUND
Sleeping: “The majority of the time I stayed in a small house just off the Ganges River in a small town called Raipur in India. There was a full staff of six people in the house to cook and clean. After Raipur, I continued on to the Hotel Ideal Tower, a brand-new hotel —and the only four-star in Varanasi. Then it was off to Nepal, where I stayed at the Hyatt Kathmandu.”
Eating: “Raipur is a very remote place, and there were literally no restaurants in the village. All of the meals were prepared fresh at the house. Because there was limited electricity and refrigeration, any meat that I ate was killed that afternoon and prepared for dinner. Crazy roughing it! Kathmandu was not nearly as remote, and one of my favorite things to eat was the fresh yak cheese at the Hyatt Kathmandu. In the 1970s, a French cheese master moved to Nepal to find a little zen and ended up experimenting with yak milk for his cheeses. They are positively divine, and he supplies the Hyatt exclusively.”
Sightseeing: “In Nepal, I visited the prayer Stupa, one of the most holy sites in Buddhism, in the center of Kathmandu. While in Varanasi, I took a trip to see the Ganges river —which, of course, is one of the most sacred landmarks in Hinduism. Much of the rest of the trip was spent visiting various carpet studios and weaving centers. I saw many of my designs executed into beautiful rugs, saw the complete manufacturing process from raw yarn to weaving all the way to washing and finishing.”
Zen moment: “Looking up into the mountains in the distance while my carpets were being washed and finished was purely enchanting. It was easy to see why the people in Nepal are so spiritual. Being surrounded by such natural beauty, how could you not be moved?”
For what to pack on your own Indian adventure, click here.