A magic carpet ride: Exploring carpet weaving in India
In this lesson, a photo analysis activity helps students learn about carpet weaving in India. Students discuss how this tradition compares to the weaving traditions of other cultures.
A lesson plan for grade 7 Visual Arts Education and Social Studies
In this lesson students will analyze and discuss the carpet weaving traditions of India through a photographic journey showing various aspects of the carpet weaving process. Students will also consider the similarities and differences of Indian carpet weaving with weaving in cultures around the world.
- learn to analyze photos to learn the traditions of global cultures such as India
- gain a better understanding of how traditional arts and crafts are still important parts of global cultures today
- learn how, despite cultural and political differences, common traditions and activities exist around the globe
Classroom time required
One to one-and-a-half class periods (approximately 60 to 90 minutes; longer if extension activities are included)
- Carpet weaving photo analysis sheet
- Images of carpet weaving in India:
- Computer with projector and internet access or student computers with internet access or color copies of photos, one copy for each student
- Optional: PowerPoint or similar program to show the images individually or together
- The following additional materials may be needed if the optional art project extension is included:
- Skeins of yarn in various colors
- 5×7 thin cardboard pieces — one for each student
- Construction paper or other colorful paper
The activities in this lesson should be part of a larger study of one of the countries or regions discussed, but this lesson may be used as part of a general study of cultures.
- Prepare copies of the photo analysis worksheet for students.
- Prepare the images: If you’re using a multimedia projector, prepare the images that accompany this lesson in order to project them. You can project the images directly from the LEARN NC website, but you may find it easier to manipulate the photos by putting them on a PowerPoint slide or interactive whiteboard when projecting them to the class. If a multimedia projector is not available, prepare the images in a folder to load on individual student computers, or prepare enough copies of the photos for students to use.
- Familiarize yourself with India by reading about the country on websites such as the CIA World Factbook. A good place to begin is by locating the city and country where the photos are taken on Google Earth. For example, look up Agra or Jodhpur, India, to locate where the carpets in the India weaving photos are made.
- Familiarize yourself with the history and tradition of carpet weaving in India by reading the captions to the photos used in this lesson plan and by reading about carpet weaving in books or on the web. (See suggested sources under “Websites” below.) To understand Indian carpet weaving in context, read about how the carpet making traditions in India developed from carpet making traditions and designs found elsewhere in Asia, especially Persia.
- Prepare students for the discussion of weaving and textiles by sharing with them the critical vocabulary for this lesson. Share with students some background information about carpet making in India to help them understand this rich cultural tradition. It is also important to help students appreciate the labor and craftsmanship put into these creations: One rug or carpet can take up to a year to create!
- Familiarize students with India by having them locate the country, as well as the specific areas studied in this lesson, on a map or Google Earth. Discuss basic facts such as regions, climate, culture, and language groups.
- Familiarize students with analysis of photographs through various levels of questioning. Teachers should read the professional articles on LEARN NC about photo analysis, visual literacy, and teaching with photos to become more familiar with this valuable teaching tool.
- Teachers using the optional mini-weaving project should collect needed materials before the lesson (yarn, 5 x 7 thin cardboard pieces for each student, scissors). Cut about 10 slits (or any even number of slits) evenly spaced on the 5-inch ends of the cardboard (10 on each end) before beginning.
- Hand out copies of the carpet weaving photo analysis sheet. To complete the comparison portion of the worksheet, be sure to show students multiple photographs after they study one photo.
- Prep students about the lesson activity and the photo analysis process. Tap their prior knowledge with a brief and general discussion:
- Have you ever seen an Oriental carpet?
- What was it like? Describe the colors and designs you saw.
- How do you think it was made?
- Choose a picture or pictures of Indian carpet weaving, and project one photo at a time for students to study and complete the analysis. You may find it easier to manipulate the photos by putting them on a PowerPoint slide or interactive whiteboard when projecting them to the class. Give students approximately 15-20 minutes to study and answer the analysis questions for one photograph.
- To add to this lesson activity, project or show students photos that are similar in subject, but from different countries. For example, show students photos of textile weavers from Ecuador, Turkey, Bali, Nepal, or the U.S., all of which can be found by doing a LEARN NC search for “weaving.” Compare and contrast the photos and have students draw comparisons from the photos. Discuss and emphasize how countries a half a world away have similar traditions and cultures, even similar to cultures and traditions here in North Carolina.
- Discussion: Discussing the photos with students is tremendously important. Do not end the activity without allowing students to explain their answers. Use the students’ observations and written responses as a springboard for class discussion. Do not limit yourself by just having students give a verbal answer to the questions on the analysis sheet. Use their answers as stimuli for further questioning that is not on the sheet. Consistently encourage students to support their answers with evidence from the photos.
As you discuss the questions presented on the photo analysis sheet, add additional questions. Also show students various photos in the weaving collection. Try to get students to draw connections and similarities between differing cultures as well as their own. Possible questions include:
- What similarities do you notice among all of the textile weaving pictures?
- What did you see in the photos that surprised you?
- Did you change your mind about how you view other cultures or people?
- What similarities did you see in the photos with your own life and life here in North Carolina?
You, the teacher, are the best judge of your students’ learning levels and abilities. Make students aware on what and how they will be graded.
Assess student responses and adjust questioning and activities as needed. Students can be graded on completeness of work and participation during discussion. You may also gauge students’ level of thinking and understanding of photographs through the photo analysis activities and the ability of students to completely and thoughtfully answer questions on various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
It is encouraged to have students use photo analysis activities several times throughout the year to help students create a “habit of learning” on what to look for when analyzing photographs and documents.
Learning rubrics can be developed through Rubistar.
Modifications and alternative assessments
For students with certain learning disabilities, you may opt to accept verbal responses rather than written responses for the analysis of photographs.
You may also want to give students the captions for the photos to help guide them in their understanding of what they are seeing. Having students support their ideas with evidence from the photos is still encouraged.
Teachers may want to extend this lesson by adding an arts and crafts activity. Weaving activities using paper or yarn are great hands-on activities to add to the learning experience. (Note: See “Materials” above.) Directions for a weaving activity using yarn are as follows:
- Instruct students to take a length of yarn and wrap it around the card, making sure that the yarn is secured between the slits. These will be the warp threads. Have students tie off the loose ends to another thread.
- Have the students take a second piece of thread to be used as the weft. Students should tie off one end to the first warp thread toward the bottom of the card. Instruct students to begin weaving over and under the warp threads making sure they pull the weft thread through firmly.
- As students work their way up or down weaving, remind them to make sure the weft threads are slid down against each other tightly.
- Finishing: Once the weaving is completed, have students turn to the back of the card where only the warping shows. Students should carefully cut the strings across the middle of the card. Starting at one side, instruct students to grasp two (warp) strings together in a loop knot close to the weaving to create a tassel so the weaving will not fall apart.
- Have the students repeat tying the tassels to have 5 tassels on each end if using 10 warp strings, and finish by trimming the tassels to the desired length.
For a simple weaving activity using paper, cut strips of construction paper and weave them through a large piece of construction paper that has cuts placed along the length of the paper. Wallpaper or paper with various colorful designs may be used to make interesting paper “carpet” creations.
- CIA World Factbook overview of India
- Google Earth (Basic edition available for free download.)
- Background information about carpets:
- Rubric maker from Rubistar
- “Resources for Teaching with Photographs,” from LEARN NC
- having been done for many years and passed down from generation to generation
- cleaning and straightening fibers such as wool or cotton before they are spun into threads for weaving, usually with a comb or brush-like device
- twisting fibers into longer threads in preparation for weaving; can be done by hand, by simple drop distaffs (spindles), “walking” spinning wheels, or by modern machines
- a device, human- or electrical-powered, used to weave threads into cloth or textiles; examples range from the simple backstrap loom to more complex treadle or pedal looms
- the up-and-down threads through which the weft is woven
- threads that are woven over and under the warp threads
- tying knots with the threads in a carpet to create the carpet pile or thickness
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
- Goal 4: The learner will identify significant patterns in the movement of people, goods, and ideas over time and place in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
- Objective 4.02: Identify the main commodities of trade over time in selected areas of Africa, Asia,and Australia and evaluate their significance for the economic, political, and social development of cultures and regions.
- Objective 4.03: Examine key ethical ideas and values deriving from religious, artistic, political, economic, and educational traditions, as well as their diffusion over time, and assess their influence on the development of selected societies and regions in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
- Goal 12: The learner will assess the influence of major religions, ethical beliefs, and values on cultures in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
- Objective 12.02: Describe the relationship between and cultural values of selected societies of Africa, Asia, and Australia and their art, architecture, music, and literature, and assess their significance in contemporary culture.
- Objective 12.03: Identify examples of cultural borrowing, such as language, traditions, and technology, and evaluate their importance in the development of selected societies in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
- Goal 13: The learner will describe the historic, economic, and cultural connections among North Carolina, the United States, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
- Objective 13.02: Describe the diverse cultural connections that have influenced the development of language, art, music, and belief systems in North Carolina and the United States and analyze their role in creating a changing cultural mosaic.
Visual Arts Education (2001)
- North Carolina Essential Standards
- Social Studies (2010)
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- 7.CX.1 Understand the global, historical, societal, and cultural contexts of the visual arts. 7.CX.1.1 Understand the visual arts in relationship to the geography, history, and culture of modern societies from the emergence of the First Global Age (1450) to...
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- Social Studies (2010)