We also do individual projects of carpets. The carpets are handmade in a small factory in Nepal. The wool comes from the Tibetan sheep, that live in the mountains, which ensures its high lanolin content and quality. The raw material are individually colored with plants, specifically for each project. The whole process of production of carpet from combing, spinning ,dyeing and wool knitting takes three months. Manufacturing is certified by the Swiss organization of fair-trade ‘Label STEP’.
Producing carpets under fair and good conditions
International organizations such as the Swiss fair trade Label STEP dedicate themselves to better working conditions in the Nepalese carpet industry. For manufacturers who cooperate with STEP this means environmentally friendly production, regular inspections, daycare for small children and fair wages for weavers, adjusted to the “living wage”. These wages are above the average income and ensure that all the workers and their families are able to survive on their own income.
Production in a traditional Tibetan family business
Carpets are produced at a family business with about 65 workers in Kathmandu Valley. This is the centre of the Nepalese carpet industry. The workshop owner is a Tibetan expatriate who learned the craft from his grandparents in Tibet. He still uses the traditional techniques and works exclusively with natural dyes. In addition to his core workforce he also employs an established group of migrant workers, weavers from rural regions who live on-site at the workshop.
Their children are looked after in the company-owned day care. All men and women in the company have equal rights and receive equal wages.
True miracles made from warm wool
Carpets are made from Tibetian highland wool, one of the highest quality wools available. The reason for this is the sheep who live under extreme conditions and temperature changes in the Himalayan highlands. They develop much longer wool fibres and thick underwool containing high lanolin concentration and thus make sure that the carpets are robust and warm. In Pockhara, a town north of Kathmandu, the wool gets pre-sorted according to its natural colour, then carded and spun, so that only the high quality long fibres are processed. Spun wool of this quality is well suited for the process of natural dyeing. The fibres will not only be coated by the dyes but penetrated right through to the core. As a consequence carpets are colour intensive and don’t fade. After sorting, all the following steps in the production process such as for example dyeing, knotting and the final washing of the carpets take place in the workshop in Kathmandu Valley.
A handful of plants for a sea of natural colours
Various influences on the dyeing process lead to individual colours and shades. The lanolin content and the original colour of the wool – whether blonde or brown – as well as the outside temperature play an important role. Thus new shades of colours are created again and again, giving each carpet an individual character. A handful of plants, roots and bark are enough to create the 70 colours.