The Production

About Our Production

The development and production process involved with the making of our carpets reflects not just a story of how each carpet is made in rural India but also how the process includes a well-adjusted and fairly balanced trade partnership involving both ends of the supply chain.

This considered, we aim to provide as much transparency as possible to our production process.  By providing such detail we hope to highlight the benefits brought on all fronts, not just for the weavers but yours too – the customer.  Our aim here is therefore a contribution to help make ethical shopping a little easier saving  our customers time researching the ethics of our company, a responsibility we believe that we should all be taking before purchasing  handmade goods.  

Fundamental to our supply chain is the magnificent work being undertaken by the otherwise traditionally agricultural dependent villages communities of rural India.

Achieving this objective is done so by skill building and skill up-gradation training to those artisans associated with the carpet weaving trade and by the provision of such a means a substantially increased and stabilised level of dependable incomes.

Needless to say, income-generating opportunities at the doorsteps of artisans residing in the remotest of the locations carries a lot of significance in poverty alleviation and not least the skill development landscape due to the provision of livelihood opportunities to often illiterate and poor people at their own doorstep.

As the process of weaving carpets does not require massive infrastructure establishment at local levels, it empowers the workers to acquire traditional skills within their own village – which in turn serves as an essential work opportunities without the pressure on the villagers to actually migrate out from their villages into larger towns or cities for the quest of other, often non skilled based employment.

Transport of the raw materials and finished goods is also taken care of by sending the raw materials out to the villages and bringing back the weaved products, thus relieving the weavers of the burden of spending their own time and resources traveling often very long distances into towns to sell their goods. Furthermore, flexible working hours and output based wages enhance livelihood and living standard options as per their needs.

The production process of our carpets is summarised as follows:

The wool used for carpets is locally produced by the Bikaner sheep of Rajasthan – greatly favoured by artesian weavers in Indian for centuries. The hard wearing but soft to touch properties of the Bikaner wool also benefits from an excellent dye absorption capacity  making it an ideal choice for vibrant contemporary carpets which in turn supports the stunning creativity of the designers work by adding a luxurious sheen to the finished carpets.

Rural Rajasthan – India

The spring wool is sheared locally before grading.

Carding is then undertaken to disentangle, clean and intermix the fibers of wool to produce a continuous web of fine wool mesh or web.

The webbing process is achieved by passing the fibers between differentially moving surfaces. The process breaks up the unorganised clumps of fibre and aligns the materials as individual fibres to be pulled and drawn parallel with each other, notably all by hand. Following the carding process the villagers set about hand spinning the wool whereby the wool fibre is sought to be converted by the twisting together of drawn out strands of fibres to form the yarn. The spinning wheel device an imaginative use of re-cycled bicycle wheel with the occasional application of the spinner’s foot to create a truly creative gearing technique.

After the carding and spinning process is complete the wool is then collected from the village to be taken to for cleaning and dying by the master dyers. The wools are batch dyed in vats before being brought out into the open air for sun-drying.

Mapping

is the process of transferring the carpets design into a numerical knotting sequence for the weavers to follow, with each number relating to the colour of yarn to be knotted. The map is then then printed off (in its numerical format) with several different coloured sample pieces of wool attached to serve as a reference and instruction to the weaver, thereby telling the weaver the colour of yarn to weave and where it is to be tied or knotted. 

The completed maps, dyed wools and any other possible materials that may go into the carpets construction such as silk, is then returned to the rural villages where the weaving process commences

The weaving process

Is thereafter commenced by the village weavers, invariably the weaving is undertaken by women who then set about the very time consuming process of tying each piece of pile to the carpet between the weft and weave otherwise known as the foundation.

The knotting process

in turn The tying of a Persian knot for each piece of pile in a carpet is not too dissimilar to the practise of tying a shoe lace. This process is repeated horizontally along the weft and weave before the knots are batted down with a heavy hand held comb to compress the knots together into a very firm well locked and upright manner, each strand of yarn/piece of pile is then cut off with a hook like knife which in turn leaves a single piece of pile.

This entire process is repeated along the length of the rug in a horizontal manner until each line is complete, thereafter the next line above it is then commenced. As an approximate idea of knot count we typically see  approximately 120 knots to one given square inch. A typical sized 300x200cm  carpet would usually take two or three weavers around 6 months to complete – involving over one million knots in total. 

In terms of payment the weavers typically earn about 500 India Rupees a day – this currently equates about £4.30 GBP.  As the weavers actually get paid on a per production basis this amount can vary a fair bit.   Although the earnings are a far cry from anything like the UK’s minimum wage it is however, a regular form of non-agriculturally dependant income- in turn providing opportunities for the weavers to save and re-invest back into their own local infrastructure, locally its considered a good wage, often well above the average hourly rate for this part of the world. 

Other benefits to the weavers include the provision of Artisan Cards which are issued to the weavers by the Indian Governments Development Commissioner for Handicrafts. These cards in turn enable the weavers to receive a form of identity as skilled artisans entitling them to various benefits associated with the program. Being in possession of the cards doesn’t just offer a sense of personal empowerment it also opens many other door and other avenues, for example having the card demonstrates a skill and dependable income – supporting loans for schooling, medical care and much more.

Traditionally in many parts of India the matter of financial inclusion has been a major social mobilisation gap for the development of rural communities with only a very small number of people being able to derive benefits from banking services.

Occupational and general health for the artisan weavers is routinely organised in villages who in turn are working in partnership with local healthcare providers and healthcare innovators. Not just the weavers but all members of the village community are given access to expert check-ups and treatment at their doorsteps. 

 

Videos

Village Weavers  

Carpet weaving in the village of Thana Ghazni, Rajasthan North West India. The weavers usually weave for around 3 hours maximum each day. Weaving in such fine detail for longer durations can bring increased occupational health risks. Hence, the loom is often shared between other family members or friends to suit. Its all very sociable, each family home usually has a loom with weavers often interchanging between different looms and homes each making a contributions to each others carpet.      

Monkey Trouble at the loom

The local Rhesus Macaques love to steal the colourful wools intended for the rugs. Looking up at the trees around the village you'll often see colourful displays of discarded strands of wool left behind by the monkeys.  The monkeys, however, are quite tolerated around the village on religious grounds, as well as  be excellent look outs and sounding the alarm when king cobras and leopards enter the village, as they sometimes do.   

Persian knotting

You can see in detail here the time consuming and highly skilled process of tying the Persian knot to the weft and weave or the foundation. The tying of each Persian knot is a similar process as tying a shoe lace.  Each knot tied is then cut from the wool or silk yarn with a small knife called a "Chaghoo". The reaming tail end of the knot left on the rug forms a single piece of pile. A process that's repeated over and over, often millions of times to create a single Persian knotted carpet . 

Impact on village life 

N. K. Choudhary founder of Jaipur Rugs Foundation explains the wonderful benefits and lifestyle changes carpet weaving has brought to the communities of rural India.

Background to jaipur rugs 

N. K. Choudhary explains the background to Jaipur Rugs Foundation and its path to social empowerment for the rural artisan weavers in the traditionally agriculturally dependent villages of rural India.