13213 Wed, 12/05/2007 - 6:01pm
AGRA, India--There is much talk in the Indian rug business of "cottage industries" and the use of local artisans who keep the tradition of rug weaving thriving in the country. A common business practice here, the cottage businesses often provide a source of livelihood and income in areas where there would otherwise be none.
On a recent trip to India, HFN paid a visit to one such operation.
Bobby Yerma, manager for Kalra's Cottage Industry here, said all the work is done completely by hand, from the original drawings to the painting of the designs on grids to the knotting, by local artisans throughout Agra. In fact, according to Yerma, Kalra keeps 1,500 village artisans busy weaving for customers around the globe. Some weavers work--speeding through knots at a rate one would expect from a machine--out of Kalra's offices, but most work from their homes. Yerma said the speed and perfection of the weavers' work stems from their being taught by generations of their own relatives who made their living the same way.
One of the company's advantages, Yerma said, is the fact that "sending abroad is free of charge because we get incentives from the government for bringing business to India." He added they can ship to "anywhere" within a maximum of 10 days and are already doing business with clients in the United States.
Among the more historic of Kalra's designs is a replica of a piece Yerma said has been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The original was made in the 17th century for Shah Jahan, the same ruler who built the Taj Majal, also in Agra, for his beloved wife. --Jennifer Quail