By Yash Ranga,
Jaipur Rugs (India)
Since time immemorial, rural art and culture has proved its mettle across the world. Its rich traditions speak volumes of glory and dates back to the earliest of civilizations. The story of India’s rural Arts & Handicrafts comes from one of the oldest civilizations of the world. The vast cultural and ethnic diversity has enabled a variety of motifs, techniques and crafts to flourish on this land. Born of centuries-old craftsmanship, the history varies designs and motifs that have fascinated the people the world over. NK Chaudhary, from a tiny village in Rajasthan, had the diligence to engage, develop and sustain the carpet weaving community – and created a network of 40,000 artisans in 600 villages across 5 states in India. It is widely recognized for its global success of connecting the authentic craftsmanship with art connoisseurs across the world.
Jaipur Rugs is one of India’s modern social enterprises, with a unique socio-economic model which is measurably successful in addressing the key Millenium Development Goals of poverty, gender equity, decent work and economic growth, and responsible production and consumption. The socio- economic model of Jaipur rugs not only leads to inclusive growth and boosts rural India’s economy by developing a new generation of artisans, but revives the traditional craft of rug weaving, eliminating the middlemen and directing the flow of benefits to artisans. Through tales of this heart-touching journey of rural women weavers there comes an opportunity to witness the happy human network behind the decentralized supply chain which is at the core of the Jaipur Rugs model.
The vision of connecting Artisans with the global market has never been a simple process. Jaipur rugs are always proud of communicating their craftsmanship to the world, but the dilemma is how artisans can directly make their own identity.
As an example, our design team worked on a project where three weavers from different states were sitting together and working on a rug. The rug was an outcome of disagreement between the weavers who had hand-woven it. It resulted in a pattern on the bottom of the rug which is not very aligned. As the weavers kept weaving for next few months, they eventually worked in harmony resulting in a unified pattern in upper part of the rug. This hand-woven rug by weavers of Rajasthan illustrates a beautiful story of human connection. When the same rug was remade, the stories touched the heart of millions of people. The Anthar rug led to Jaipur Rugs becoming the first Asian recipient of the “German Design Award, 2016”, an awardee alongside Audi and BMW.
The Anthar Rug that won the German Design Award 2016
After winning German Design Award, we designed a social innovation programme at the grassroots. For weavers in rural Rajasthan, creating something entirely of their own on an unassuming loom was something they never imagined would happen. A one-of-a-kind initiative introduced by Jaipur Rugs taps into the untamed fashion from the villages of India. It experiments with the originality of rural craftspeople and nurtures their creative potential which remains unexplored on a global stage. For the first time ever, weavers get to be the designers of their own rugs.
Jaipur Rugs, through the launch of the Artisan Originals line, has provided a platform for weavers to test and express their creativity in the form of a one-off rug. Travelling from Aaspura, Rajasthan to Frankfurt, Germany, she has walked on stage to collect a 2018 German Design Award for her rug, Kamal, alongside our design director, Kavi, who also collected a 2018 GDA Gold Award for her Asthai rug. Bimla Devi has now entered an elite club reserved for some of the world’s best designers. Our weavers turned designers have also won highly prestigious awards like the Elle Deco International Award and European Product Design award.
Bimla Devi in Red and Grey saree receiving her award
Weaver Designer Dafali Devi won European Product Design award for Ujjwal
We believe that imagination has no boundary. One of our proudest moments was when BMW invited two of our weaver designers to create customized, handmade foot mats for BMW users.
From receiving awards on global stage to standing in front of President of India, these women artisans have not left any stone untouched. The world is looking for connections, and globally people love and appreciate human connection. The humble rug has become a voice speaking for millions of craft communities residing in the heart of India.
Yash Ranga is a speaker at SEWF 2018
Friday 2.15pm: Masterclass in Connecting rural women with global markets