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Design and Dishonor

Think of cultural heritage like the fruit of a fruit-bearing tree. Imagine a poor, rural people of humble means who are living in a particular part of the world, and whose only thing of value is a field of fruit trees that they have planted, nurtured, watered, and carefully tended. Then imagine there is another group of people who come along, are amazed by the beauty of the fruit trees, and say, "the world needs to know about these special trees." So they make the conscious decision to take those fruit trees away from the first people. But not just that. Imagine that they give the trees to another people - in another part of the world - so that those other people can enjoy the fruit of the trees, which rightfully belong to the first people. And, before those first people are able to enjoy or take pride in the fruit of their own labor. Then imagine the folks who took the trees away claim that they have "honored" the first people, by taking their fruit trees from them to give to the world. Regardless of the "shout-out" is framed, if the fruit trees were given away, the original fruit farmers are left unable to receive any benefit from their trees. 

Design and Dishonor

Have you come across those major retailers who call their collections "Moroccan," but tell you that their shags were actually appropriated from Morocco and given to Nepalese weavers? On the surface, the retailers appear to be honoring the Moroccan weaving tradition. A design of black lines and diamonds on a white canvas may be simple, but factually, the design belongs to the Berbers of Morocco, and historically was produced by no other people in the world except the Berbers of Morocco. Transferring the honor of producing Moroccan rugs to the Nepalese (or to India and China) instead of to the Moroccans themselves seems a bit thoughtless. For many people in the world, including Moroccans, their cultural heritage is one of the only ways they have to sustain a livable wage. To take that means of making a living away from them, and give it to another people, is inconsiderate.

At the end of the day, large corporations can usually be counted on to harm and exploit while undermining the achievements of the original creatives.  Why would a major retailer take the ancestral heritage of one people and give it to another people to produce? If the major retailer's rugs are made on Nepalese looms - then for the sake of honor and honesty, why not call them Nepalese rugs, and ask those Nepalese weavers to weave their own cultural motifs onto the rugs?

 

Did a child make the rugs of your major retailer? 

On the flip side of that mass produced coin, there are also those major retailers offering "Hand knotted" Moroccan for a "Made in China" price.  But a 9 x 12 Morocccan rug requires a skilled weaver many weeks of labor intensive work -- so how is it even possible that major retailer is offering it for between $1000 and $1200 after the flood of discounts to your inbox? You need to be aware that children make up over 60% of the labor workforce in India. Ask your major retailer which country their "hand knotted" rugs are made in, and then ask if a child made those knots. Where is the profit for the major retailer in a 9 x 12 feet rug priced at $1000 to $1200 if all of those knotted were tied by legal age women receiving a fair trade price?

 

 

 

Why buy a Moroccan-inspired rug made in Nepal and India, when you can buy a Moroccan rug made in Morocco?

The next question to ask is, why would anyone want a Moroccan Beni Ourain made in Nepal or India? That is exactly where each of the major home fashion retailers are making their rugs. Why are retailers making their Moroccan-inspired rugs in India and Nepal? Because their mass produced rugs can be made more cheaply, using quick methods of production. Just because a rug is beautiful to look at, does not mean that a lot of time or skill was put into it. A rug can be high quality, and mass produced, and made in India using time and cost cutting methods. 

 

 

 

Hand knotted rugs for Diamonds and Peanuts

While some retailers offer Moroccan fakes for the price of diamonds to pay for a gargantuan retail machine of warehouses and retail locations and the homes of corporate chairmen, there are other retailers have begun offering hand knotted rugs for a mass-produced price. If high profit margins were not the end goal for both of these corporate models, then why not offer real Moroccan rugs made in Morocco?

Corporate models based on cultural appropriation should indicate to you that child or prison labor was used. Since India, China, and Bangladesh often receive unsavory press associated with child labor, the sound of Nepal offers an alternative. "The True Cost" is a groundbreaking documentary detailing precisely these practices. 

DOCUMENTARY: THE TRUE COST OF RETAIL THERAPY

 

 

 

Hand tufted vs. hand knotted

"Tufted by hand" is not the same as hand knotted. "Hand tufted" is one of the processes used to create fake Moroccan rugs in India. A tool called a "tufting gun" is used to shoot the pile through a hand-woven or machine-made canvas. The rug takes a fraction of the time to make, therefore greatly reducing the cost. This process does not require the same skill level as hand-knotting.  

 

 

The real deal: style and authenticity 

When a retailer says a rug is made of hand woven wool and imported - but does not offer the specific process used or the name of the country the rug has been imported from - you should understand that the rug is made in India. By comparison, our rugs are individually hand knotted in Morocco by skilled artisans using traditional methods. 

"Hand woven wool" is not the same as hand knotted wool. The hand-tying of knots is a very labour-intensive task. Weaving a hand-knotted rug requires a lot of skill and time to produce. An average weaver can tie about 10,000 knots per day. So, if a rug is individually woven by artisans, using hand-knotting, with a production time of eight to ten weeks, that detail should be mentioned.

 

  

 

 

"Hand knotted" for a "Made in China" price? That is what most retailers are offering. You need to be aware that children make of over 60% of the labor workforce in India. Ask your major retailer which country their "hand knotted" rugs are made in, and then ask if a child made those knots. 

By contrast, our hand knotted rugs are crafted by Moroccan women, well over legal age, who are skilled in the traditions of their own culture and are a paid fair trade amount for each unique piece. 

 

 

 

 

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“When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape.” ― Claude Monet