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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Ten Thousand Villages hopes to make rug event an annual affair


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Growing up in Pakistan, Yousaf Chaman learned of how hand-knotted rugs are made.

“Rugs have a very emotional appeal. It’s like a painting,” he said. “Rugs are very much this personal connection with the art.”

Chaman, who is the director of Bunyaad Rugs, a Pennsylvania-based fair trade company, brought over 100 hand-knotted rugs to Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend. The fair trade rug event, featuring handmade rugs in different sizes and designs, will run until June 2 at Ten Thousand Villages on Queen Street.

Bunyaad creates rug-knotting jobs by working with over 850 families in about 125 villages across Pakistan. Artisans get paid before rugs leave Pakistan and, by knotting rugs, workers are guaranteed a long-term sustainable job. Plus, they are able to send their kids to school and can have good living conditions, said Chaman.

Made from hand-spun wool and using natural dyes, rugs can range from 2 by 3 feet to 7 by 10 feet. Depending on a type and size, one rug can have from 100 knots to 900 knots per square inch. Artisans are paid for every knot they tie, said Chaman, and the retail price for one rug can range from $95 to $10,000.

It can take a family up to two years to finish a single 9 by 12 foot rug, he added.

Inspired by the surrounding landscape and architecture, artisans are also encouraged to be creative and can choose the colour and designs according to their culture and their local environment. Rugs are durable and can be passed down to the future generations, with some rugs lasting for over 100 years, said Chaman recalling how his family has a 150-year-old rug.

Customers are able to buy rugs at the store or online. They’re also allowed to take a couple of rugs home to see how they might fit with the interior of their homes, said Teresa Friesen, store manager at Ten Thousand Villages.

“We’re hoping to keep this going every year and build that relationship with our customers and the town. And know that every year this will be a tradition and we’ll bring these (rugs) in,” said Friesen.

Eugene Ellman, a member of Fair Trade Canada’s board of directors, was at the store last Friday to hear a presentation by Chaman on how rugs are made.

“It’s very important that consumers understand when they’re buying a carpet or a rug, there are differences in a market,” Ellman told The Lake Report. “By being a discerning consumer, you can support producers in developing countries that are actually getting a fair price for their work.”

After NOTL, the event will move across the United States and Canada. The next Canadian stop is Edmonton from June 14 to 30.

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