Hot Steaming Water Buffalo Milk served by Fauzia

Fauzia steams milkWhen you come to any of our rug rooms and during all of our rug events across the US and Canada you get a glimpse into the world of rug making and see the artisans at work in the video “Introduction to Bunyaad Rugs” that is shown throughout the day. As staff I have watched this video hundreds of times. My work in the Bunyaad office also involves working with lots and lots of artisan photos. So when visiting Pakistan this year it felt almost surreal meeting these same artisans for the first time and yet feeling like I have known them for a long time.

It is with great pleasure that I get to introduce two of these young women to you who have both been rug knotters with Bunyaad for the past eight years. Fauzia and Sofia live with their parents in the small village of Halwan about two hours north of Lahore. After finishing their schooling, they both started knotting rugs as this allowed them a good income and the ability to stay home with their parents.

Fauzia and Sofia at their loom
Fauzia and Sofia sitting in front of their loom.

Fauzia and Sofia work side by side on two 2 1/2′ x 4′ Persians. The detailed work is amazing and watching the fingers fly along each row as one knot after another is being added fills me with awe. At one of our earlier artisan visits I was introduced to the art of making a knot. Finding the two warp threads with one hand and winding a piece of wool around it in the correct configuration while holding the sharp edged churi (knife) in the other hand ready to cut the wool to a shorter length made me realize the skill it takes to create these exquisite rugs. Years of practice and immense concentration are needed as you add knot after knot to bring out the detailed design.

Visiting with artisans involves more than coming to check on the progress of the rug they are working on. The family proudly showed us around their home. When you enter the courtyard you are greeted by several water buffalo which provide the family with fresh milk as well as dung which is dried and used for cooking fuel. In the rooms surrounding the courtyard we were shown:

  • carefully stacked dried cow dung patties
  • storage of fresh greens for the animals, grains and the much used mill stone
  • a family room with shelves that beautifully display the dishes
  • a second room for sleeping that also houses the loom
  • a washroom with hand-pump for water and squat toilet

Woman grinding rice

The cooking happens in the courtyard. Fauzia showed us how she steams the water buffalo milk. Drinking hot steaming cups of water buffalo milk was a culinary delight for me.

Most of all I enjoyed interacting with the family who seemed to overflow with an abundance of joy. It was quite contagious. Fauzia’s upcoming marriage is much anticipated and she will have the ability to bring a loom along if she desires to continue knotting rugs in her new home.

Our visit was too short but it allowed us a glimpse into the lives of Fauzia, Sofia and their parents and seeing the stability working with Bunyaad has given them. It will be several months yet but I can’t wait to see the two finished 2 1/2′ x 4′ dark blue Persians. Would you like to know when they come in?

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