The Tibet Rug Company
Posted on October 31, 2012 by Susan Brouwer
The Tibet Rug Company is a joint venture between a Salt Lake rug company and a cooperative of Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu, Nepal. Long a production of Tibetan rugs woven in Nepal, the Tibet Rug Company now also produces sturdy, well-made Soumaks woven in India of 100% New Zealand wool on a cotton warp.
The Tibet Rug Company holds a special place in our hearts for several reasons. We love their rugs, which are contemporary while being light-hearted and earthy at the same time. While the quality of the rugs is very high, their designs work well in so many of our more casual homes.
We also are very fond of the people who work for the Tibet Rug Company and who we have known for years. Their spirit and enthusiasm makes them a joy to work with.
In addition to his Tibetan rug project, the owner of Tibet Rug Company, Jim Webber, was instrumental in the founding of a non-profit organization whose principal purpose is to build teaching hospitals for reconstructive surgery in Nepal. Caring donors have given more than $400,000 to the Cleft and Burn Center. The mission statement of the organization is as follows: "To deliver quality, deformity-correcting reconstructive surgery to the poorest of the poor of Nepal through a permanent, sustainable healthcare infrastructure." Learn more about the Nepal Cleft and Burn Center -- donations welcome!
The process that results in a handknotted rug is time and labor-intensive. In the case of Tibetan rugs, the raw wool is brought into Nepal from Tibet, where sheep live at high altitudes in extreme conditions that result in some of the finest wool in the world. Rich in lanolin, this wool boasts of very strong fibers. Once in Nepal, the wool is washed and hand spun. Hand spinning is a much more expensive and time-consuming process than machine spinning, but it has two distinct advantages. Hand spinning breaks down fewer fibers of wool, so the end result is a stronger fiber and longer wearing wool. Hand spun wool also has an irregular diameter so it takes up the dyes in an irregular manner, which gives the rug character and a more interesting texture.
After the wool is dyed, the rugs are "knotted" by hand on cotton warps, using looms and techniques that haven't changed since the weaving of Tibetan rugs began several centuries ago. A 4- x 6-foot rug requires approximately 250 hours to complete. The hand knotting process and the superb quality of the wool produce a rug that will last for generations, under normal wear and circumstances.
See our Tibet Rug Company rugs.