As more and more traditional arts and crafts are dying out, thanks to mechanization, over-the-top consumerism and just plain short sightedness on our part, organisations like Himalayan Weavers, come as a breath of fresh air.
Himalayan Weavers was set up to promote environmentally friendly products from the Himalayas. Working with two tribes who have inhabited the foothills of the Himalayas for centuries, the Bhotias and the Jaunpuris, Himalayan Weavers practices fair trade.
These tribes live along a wide stretch of the Himalayas. They are legendary traders, shepherds, spinners and weavers. For generations they nurtured partnerships with nomadic Tibetans, enriching their craft by learning about new dyes and adapting Tibetan designs.
They are highly skilled but their access to markets is very limited, largely confined to pilgrims visiting various holy shrines in the Himalayas. In recent times, greater access to mechanized mill products has also led to a decline in the demand for traditional wool craftsmanship. The Himalayan Weavers’ co-op is working to revive this tradition by supporting spinners and weavers of the region.
The salaries and wage rates paid by Himalayan Weavers to these groups are considerably higher than those prevalent in the area. In addition, they also practice a policy of equal pay for equal work, thus empowering women workers.
They encourage people working with them to study further. This is particularly important in case of women employees, many of whom drop out of school at a very young age. They pay all the expenses related to their education and allow fully paid time off so that they can prepare for and sit examinations. Supported by Himalayan Weavers, two of the women employees are now pursuing a college degree. They also provide medical support by reimbursing the cost of hospital visits and medicines. But above all, they encourage craftspeople (women spinning yarn and the weavers) to work from home so that their other economic activities, such as farming, and social life are not affected.
We are proud to be associated with Himalayan Weavers and present hand spun, hand woven throws in naturally dyed sheep’s wool as part of our Autumn Winter ‘Weaves’ collection.
If you are a retailer interested in stocking these beautiful, warm, rich throws and also in supporting the indigenous Himalayan people while preserving rich handicraft traditions, please contact us.
These soft and luxuriant fair trade throws will also be on display at our stall (B122) at Top Drawer in Olympia, London, from September 16-18, 2012.