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The History of the Traditional Indian Dhurrie


The all-natural organic cotton yoga mat from the new Yogamatters Organic Cotton Collection is rooted in the use of a traditional Indian dhurrie for the physical aspect of a yoga practice. Thoughtfully produced in India with a long term Yogamatters partner, this authentic Indian dhurrie is hand woven by Indian craftspeople. With a lotus flower embroidery detail and hand knotted tassels, this cotton yoga mat is naturally absorbent and therefore well-suited to a dynamic yoga practice.

Made from 100% certified organic cotton, this mat is ideal for your home yoga practice the traditional Indian way.

So what exactly is a traditional Indian dhurrie?

A dhurrie was traditionally used in India as a woven floor-covering and is still usually found in any Indian home. Actually, the dhurrie is wonderfully versatile and can be used in a range of diverse ways such as bedding and packaging, but its predominant use is as a floor mat. Dhurries can be as small as a table cover for telephone stands and large enough for large political or social gatherings.

The flat-woven dhurrie started out as a humble version of the carpet. A dhurrie is not made in the same way as a carpet, which is made by knotting or tufting fibres into a warp. Made by weaving vertical and horizontal threads, a dhurrie has no pile or backing, so it’s fully reversible, extremely lightweight, foldable and portable.

Originally, the Indian dhurrie was seen as functional, hard-wearing and practical, rather than stylish and decorative. The colours and designs were not considered important until the Partition of India occurred in 1947. Then the inhabitants of Multan, Hyderabad and Jhang were relocated to the areas surrounding Panipat, along with their ancestral craft of weaving. Facing competition from the mills in that region, these traditional weavers had to outdo their competition by incorporating new colours and more interesting designs into their hand-loom dhurries. The material used for weaving the Indian dhurrie also shifted from cotton to wool at this time, because Panipat was one of the leading producers of raw wool in the North India region.

Dhurries are now made from cotton, wool, jute, silk or a combination of these materials. The chosen material is first converted into thread and then woven into dhurries. A cotton dhurrie is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Dhurries are also woven in many other areas in India, each with their own distinctive regional character, expressed in unique designs and colour combinations.

How did the traditional Indian dhurrie come to be used in a physical yoga practice? 

The ancient yoga practice in India was not predominantly a physical practice. In fact, the asana were only ever introduced to train the yogi to be able to sit more comfortably for longer periods of time. This ancient yoga practice was originally conducted on a mound of kusha grass, which was specifically recommended by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita the ideal seat for meditation. Alternatively, a yogi may have chosen to sit down on the hard, bare earth or on a softer cushion of deer or tiger skin.

With yoga’s introduction in the West, Rubber mats were introduced as an intermediate material to prevent cotton mats from slipping on wooden floors.

By the late 1800s, as a more detailed and documented asana practice was evolving, some yogis looked to traditional Indian dhurries as a more supportive and stable surface for their yoga practice. As yoga began to gain in popularity in the West, many practitioners used towels or cotton mats on wooden floors. A rubber mat was sometimes used under the cotton mat to prevent slipping – the first inspiration for this was actually carpet underlay!

Of course, the yoga mat as we know it today has come a long way since those early days. And yet, some yogis, particularly those who embrace hot yoga or are from the Ashtanga Yoga tradition and related Vinyasa styles such as Power Yoga and Flow Yoga, still prefer these traditional yoga practice rugs.

What are the advantages of a traditional Indian dhurrie for the practice of yoga?

If you visit Mysore, the home of Ashtanga Yoga, you’ll notice that cotton yoga practice rugs are simply the tradition. There’s a sense in which practising on a traditional-style surface is in itself a way of honouring the Ashtanga tradition itself.

Turning to more practical reasons…in an Ashtanga practice, it’s traditional to regularly jump through from one pose to the next in the sequences. If your foot or feet stick to the surface of a yoga mat mid-jump, this can easily cause injury. Also, Ashtanga Yoga is recognised to be a dynamic, rigorous practice. You need a surface to practise on that can deal with plenty of perspiration! Cotton practice rugs are more absorbent than other nonskid yoga mats. Sweaty palms are much less likely to slip on a fabric surface. Traditionally, these cotton rugs have always been recommended for the early morning classes in Mysore, because the combination of high temperatures and rigorous practice would guarantee that you would sweat a lot!

Whatever style of yoga that you practise, you may find that a cotton yoga rug is kinder to your skin in seated asana and restorative poses. If you value extra cushioning, you could always put a more cushioned yoga mat under your organic cotton dhurrie. Easy to roll or fold, your own lightweight cotton yoga rug is a hygienic and natural surface to roll out over a studio mat for a focused yoga practice any time, anywhere.

Currently available in two cool shades of Natural and Grey Ice, the Yogamatters Organic Cotton Yoga Rug also doubles up as a stylish rug for your home, in true Indian dhurrie style.



The post The History of the Traditional Indian Dhurrie appeared first on Yogamatters Blog.

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