Weekly Feature

2017-09-13 / Business

Fair Trade Rug Event to display artisans’ handmade craftsmanship

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

At Ten Thousand Villages, 5596 Main St., Williamsville, consumers can purchase handmade goods crafted by skilled artisans from across the globe.

Each item purchased at the nonprofit store helps provide vital, fair income to artisans and their families.

At the end of the month, the store will be offering its first Fair Trade Rug Event in an effort to promote the organization’s artisan-crafted rugs.

Ten Thousand Villages board member Tom Lucia, an Amherst resident, said there are 850 families among 100 villages in northwest Pakistan that craft the rugs. The artisan group that hand-loops all of the rugs — without the use of any machinery — is known as Bunyaad, which translates to “foundation” in Urdu.

Bunyaad was initiated in the late 1960s as a way to create and sustain rug-knitting jobs in rural villages.

According to Ten Thousand Villages representatives, Bunyaad works with both Christian and Muslim rug artisans, giving people the opportunity to work together and thereby transcending differences of religion, custom and tradition.

As part of Ten Thousand Villages’ mission, all of the rugs are made by fairly paid adults.

“The organization treats its employees like family,” Lucia said. “We are helping artisans make a real wage for their talents.”

Lucia added that on each rug, which is available in all shapes and sizes, there are at least 500 knots in every square inch. In addition, Lucia said about five or six people are able to cooperatively craft each rug, all of which he said are durable and easy to clean.

He said that on average, a 9-foot by 12-foot rug would take about eight months for a family to complete.

Lucia, a former teacher who has been a Ten Thousand Villages board member for about a year, said the goal of the event is to have people from the area visit the store and view the rugs on display.

“We really want people to come and see the rugs and see the artisans’ work,” he said. “People should also remember that if they do purchase a rug, it’s not just a rug,” Lucia said. “It’s a functional piece of art.”

The Rug Event will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, and Saturday, Sept. 30; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1.

The store will host “Intro to Rugs” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28. The program will allow attendees to learn how Bunyaad hand-knotted rugs are made. The Bunyaad representatives will also detail how fair trade makes a difference in both rug quality and in artisans’ lives. Reservations for the program are requested and may be made by calling 810-9333.

Ten Thousand Villages has 30 stores in the U.S. and Canada and is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary.

Ten Thousand Villages’ rug inventory can also be viewed online at rugs.tenthousandvillages.com. On the site, rugs can be searched by size and by type.

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