'Nine Million Stars' is a video project produced by Jan Kath and Label STEP that celebrates Nepali carpet weaving as a sustainable alternative to migrant labour. Staring famed Nepali actress Reecha Sharma and noted Nepali stage actor Tika Bhakta Jirel, directed by the award-winning Tsering Rhitar Sherpa. - The Ruggist | Image courtesy of Jan Kath.

Shine Brightly! | The Future of Weaving

A video by Jan Kath and Label STEP celebrates Nepali carpet weaving as a sustainable alternative to migrant labour.

There is a certain penchant on the part of carpet purveyors to romanticize the notion of carpet weaving as a storied, well respected, and almost nobel profession. Skills are extolled, the art and craft are professed as sublime, homage is paid to the hard work and talent of those who make carpets, and the resultant product is held as high example of handwork and human artistry. And why not? The ability to create woven cloth from fibre dates to time immemorial, with estimates dating this skill to some 27,000 years ago. And while pile carpet construction, as evidenced by the Pazyryk Carpet, dates to perhaps only the more recent but still sufficiently historic fifth century BCE, it is safe to state unequivocally that weaving has been important to the development of humandkind. But, for such a noble and profoundly important profession, ‘How many handweavers do you know here in the west?’ I ask rhetorically.

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Tiger shown in colour Pink by Joseph Carini Carpets - 100% silk handknotted in Nepal. | Image courtesy of Joseph Carini Carpets. - Tiger Carpets on The Ruggist

They’re Great! | Tiger Rugs

Within the world of rugs and carpets if one is to mention ‘Tiger Rug’ the foremost thought aught to be that of Tibetan Tiger Rugs. Not because of any exclusive domain over the motif – which there most certainly is not, but rather because in the grand and storied history of tigers as inspiration for carpets Tibet has produced some of the most amazing, lively, and original versions of the design. Whether the motif originated in Tibet, in a geographically proximal region, or in Timbuktu as a metaphor for far-off unknown places, is a scholarly debate for another time. Regardless, know that amongst the collectable and pre-commercialized rug market, Tibetan Tiger Rugs are, if you’ll pardon the pun, the cat’s meow.

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The Carpets of Nepal, Part I - The Ruggist

The Carpets of Nepal | Part I

As an industry we bring modernity with all of its inconsequential demands to a place where subsistence agrarian culture still dominates the economy, where manual labour is a way of life, and were exploitation (in wide ranging and various forms) is still a major concern. We also have the ability to bring hope, compassion, understanding, and as I’ve called for, real empathy for the Nepali people. We do this by honouring them for all that they’ve done for us, and by continuing to work with them as they rebuild their country. They are a “patient, studious, artistic, nuanced and extremely hard working people, and I would not be who I am without them.” says Tom DeMarco of Kooches, speaking words universal to any serious designer of modern carpets. With that, The Ruggist presents a photographic journey that explores the best of Nepali made carpets.

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Give Back to Nepal - #givebacktonepal - The Ruggist

Give Back to Nepal | #givebacktonepal

Nota bene: This post was heavily revised on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 to reflect information available at that time. I spoke with a colleague in Kathmandu earlier this morning and while most of his family are safe, others remain yet to be located. He further reports their homes are destroyed, and the immediate concerns of shelter, food and medicine are top priorities.I would like to stress that many of the efforts listed here will have longer term benefits to Nepal, whereas others benefit the short term needs of the country. Consider donating to organizations with existing infrastructure and the ability to service these immediate needs first, then give to other efforts with longer term impact. Finally, please remember that the long term success of rebuilding will only be helped by your continued business with Nepal. So, to begin again as it were, an uncredited quote from our friends at floordesign in San Francisco via facebook…

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