The People Behind The Rugs
At Ten Thousand Villages, we purchase rugs from an artisan group in Pakistan, known as Bunyaad. Centered around Lahore, Pakistan, Bunyaad was started in the late 1960’s by a Pakistani Baptist pastor and rug artisan as a way to create and sustain rug knotting jobs in rural villages. Bunyaad works with both Christian and Muslim rug artisans, giving people the opportunity to work together, transcending differences of religion, custom and tradition. In this manner, Bunyaad is a peace-building project in addition to being a job creation project.
Over the years, Bunyaad has grown to include over 850 families in about 100 villages. These villages are located in two provinces of Pakistan: Punjab and the North West Frontier Provinces. The Bunyaad finishing center and warehouse are both located in northeast Pakistan, about 20 miles from the Indian border, in the city of Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city.
Bunyaad guarantees a fair wage for their artisans. In a rural economy that normally leaves people in very uncertain financial circumstances, reliable and consistent payment fosters unprecedented financial planning capacity. And because artisans are paid per knot, rather than speed, it behooves them to make high quality, high knot count pieces. All of this enables artisans to focus on doing quality work with the knowledge that they have the security of a fair income to care for their families’ needs.
Bunyaad believes in a brighter future for all of their artisans. Each artisan family has a goal they hope to achieve, such as improving their home or buying a water buffalo. These simple but important needs may be life changing. Purchasing a water buffalo means a supply of fresh milk each day, from which one can make yogurt and butter, used heavily in Pakistani cooking. Also, extra milk may be sold for additional income. Since the looms are located in the homes, women have an increased ability to work. This access to income allows women to have a financial voice in their family. In many cases, it has raised the marrying age of young women because, as wage earners, they have more choice about when and whom to marry.