Ten Thousand Villages’ travelling show of handmade fair trade rugs has returned to Langley for just two weeks.
From now until April 28, the non-profit store is showcasing more than 100 rugs, made by Pakistani artisans in the Bunyaad organization.
Bunyaad works directly with local rug makers to purchase their wares at living wages, and today supports more than 150 families in 100 villages.
“What that means is that they (the artisans) can plan for the future,” said Trish Buhler, manager of the Langley Ten Thousands Villages store. “They can invest money. For example, one of the guys who runs the washing facility, he’s expanded so that he can have more rugs go through. For people in the villages, they buy a goat or a cow so they can have a little side business selling milk and cheese and things like that.”
Each rug passes through the hands of approximately 15 people before complete, Buhler said. This includes the designers, and the people who create the knots, set up the looms, hand-spin the wool, die the wool, burn the rugs to remove extra wool fuzz, wash and dry the rugs, and do the trimming.
The techniques they use are nearly identical to what was used thousands of years ago, and on average, it takes 12 to 14 months to complete just the knotting on a 9X12 rug.
“Because we’re paying a fair wage, a fair price for the rugs, it means the artisans aren’t forced to make a lower quality rug,” Buhler said.
“With the hand spinning and the hand dying, the really high knot count, they’re getting paid for the time. So the incentive is to make a really high quality rug. One of the problems previously, and one of the reasons Bunyaad was started, is the artisans were having a really hard time finding places where they could sell their rugs for a fair price.”
The rugs are also works of art, Buhler added.
“It’s not just for people who want to buy a rug, it’s a display for people to appreciate the art of peoples around the world,” she said.
“People can consider it an art gallery. Oftentimes, people are too nervous or they don’t want to bother me by allowing me to flip rugs for them.
“So, it’s important because there’s so much artistic talent and ability in these rugs that it’s good for everybody to look at and get an appreciation for them.”