I was so excited last summer to update the look in our great room with two new rugs. Well, when we were in India bicycling two weeks ago, we stopped at a little house to observe two women weaving. What I discovered is that they were weaving the ropes that are made into our rugs. I joked with them through the translator that maybe they made the ropes that were used in my rugs. They chuckled, and I was really glad to make that personal connection with them.
I was really impressed with the process and thought you might enjoy learning how it all goes down.
Different types of plant fibers can be woven into ropes, but the people in the Kerala region of India use the fibers from the local coconuts. Now, do you see the coconuts at the top of those tall trees? They don’t just fall down on their own. Men, who are not wearing helmets or using ropes and safety gear, climb the trees while barefooted and carrying machetes. (Sometimes kids are the ones doing the climbing.) They cut them in bundles and drop them to the ground below.
Once they are cut down, they are gathered up and sold like this along the side of the road. People sell them for next to nothing. (I cringe when I see how much you pay for coconut water at the market, but that’s another topic for another day…..)
Then someone like this girl comes along exhausted from a hot bicycle ride and enjoys sipping the juice which is loaded with electrolytes. She cracks the coconut open to enjoy the fruit inside. The outside husk is then removed from the coconut, and the hard wooden-like shells are soaked in water for a few weeks or months.
When they are removed from the water and dried, the shell is shredded and tossed in a pile to dry further.
The ladies that we visited had a huge pile of coconut shreds in their backyard. They gathered a bunch of it up in carriers that they wear, and they follow a process to weave the fiber into rope. They were working in a shed they built beside their house. I was glad that it had a roof to protect them from the sun, and that they were walking on sand which would have been easier on their feet than walking on concrete or just plain dirt.
In order to start the process, they attach a bunch of fiber to a nail on the wall and spin it while walking backwards using a little circular loom. It turns into a looooooooong rope.
Once they had quite a few rows of rope made……
…..they tied it up in bundles. At this point, it was ready to go. We often saw trucks full of this stuff pass us on the road as they headed to the rug factory. Once the rugs are made, they are purchased at ridiculously low prices by wholesale exporters who ship them to countries like the USA.
If you look closely at your woven rugs, you can see the individual ropes. Now, keep in mind, that our rugs might not be made of coconut fibers, but I promise you that they are made using the same process somewhere in the world by women who are trying to make a living for their families.