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· Bimala Bajracharya

The art of weaving is an ancient tradition of Nepal. The art has evolved through generations. Most of the weavers involved in weaving various cloths, rugs and traditional 'Radhi and Pakhi' are women. A major income source of Nepali people is agriculture and animal husbandry is an important part of agriculture. Mountain people rear Sheep and produce wool which is used to make rugs and warm clothes. Rugs have an important functional utility of protecting from the cold and providing insulation. Initially the hand-made rug was woven primarily for household use, but soon that changed and people began to sell them in the markets.

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For a long time Nepalese rugs have been a huge contributor to the Nepali economy and have helped maintain a stable Balance of Payments. The large number of women that this industry employs is also an evidence of the social and economic progress that it fosters. We are blessed because we have been handed down this art of weaving by our ancestors, and also because we have access to some of the best wool in the world.

But we cannot get too comfortable in the present situation. Nepali rug makers need to understand the dire need for innovation. We need to be able to give our customers more than just cheap manufacturing. We need to be able to develop our own designs, techniques, we need to find ways to minimize environmental pollution, and most importantly we need to market ourselves in the global rug market.