The Real Magic of Carpets: Transforming 28,000 Lives With $200
Friday, January 9, 2015
hote Lal and Kanni Devi are perched behind a loom, weaving rugs in the courtyard of their two-room home in Nareth, Rajasthan, a rural village on the outskirts of Jaipur, India.
Devi has a wide, captivating smile accentuated by red lipstick, a new luxury in her life.
Lal, 40, and Devi, 35, have been weaving for Jaipur Rugs, India’s largest rug manufacturer, for more than 15 years. In 2013, they were selected as one of India’s best artisans by The Times of India. They were flown to Delhi, a first for the couple, and recognized for their skills. Devi points to a laminated copy of the article, which hangs in their living quarters. The title reads, “Carpet Weaver to Master Artisan.”
Lal is the son of a shoemaker. He learned rug weaving as a young man, earning 50 rupees, or $1, per day. Devi says she was worried when they married: “How could he take care of me with such little money?”
Lal used to work for rug contractors, middlemen who employed weavers to produce carpets for exporters. In 1998, he was introduced to a man named Nand Kishore Chaudhary, the founder of Jaipur Rugs. Chaudhary had a different business model: Pay weavers almost twice what they were making, enable them to work from home, and provide them all the materials they need.