• Pothi Seva

Dhurries and Endbands

Updated: May 24

Panjab has a rich history of arts and crafts particularly in the production of fabrics. The weaving of “dhurries” in particular has a strong association with the Panjab region. Dhurries are woven rugs made of thick vegetable fibres amongst which cotton is the most common.

This video shows a Dhurrie making workshop in Agra. The colours and designs are different from those in Panjab but the method is essentially the same. 

Dhurries are strong and sturdy but also beautiful as the weaving can incorporate colourful geometric designs and even images. Dhurries were used in homes but also in Gurdwaras to spread on the floor for the sangat (congregation) to sit on.

The images below show a detail from a Dhurrie which has an edge pattern made using a similar method to a traditional endband.

The pattern produced is identical to that seen on some endbands from the Islamicate and Byzantine traditions of bookbinding. This method is known as twining. It produces a tight structure and is one of the oldest methods of textile production. Gurmukhi manuscripts historically almost all included twined endbands and it is possible that different areas had traditions of particular colour combinations.

Structurally the endband adds an important level of strength as it prevents a book from breaking into separate parts over time due to heavy use. It can regulate the bending of the spine as the book is opened and helps to redistribute the weight of the sections (sewn books are made up of folded sections) more evenly across the width of the spine. Medieval bookbinding traditions all used endbands as an important structural element. Different regions and historical eras used different types of endbands and there are many types which are yet to be fully documented.

At Pothi Seva we often use endbands for the repair of damaged Pothi Sahibs. The structure we use is based on the traditional method with some added elements to improve its durability over time. This often allows us to strengthen weakened Pothi Sahibs without having to always separate each section for resewing. This particular structure was developed over a number of years and the method is now quite adaptable and can be fine tuned to suit different weights and sizes of Pothi Sahibs. It is a nice thought than the ancient tradition of twined weaving found on Panjabi Dhurries was also used to bind Pothi Sahibs and is now continuing to play a key role in their repair and conservation.

An endband used in the repair of a Pothi Sahib using a traditional colour combination based on traces of original thread found on the spine.