Best Bets: Fair Trade Oriental Rug Event

May 13 2014, 9:30 AM

What: Ten Thousand Villages' Annual Oriental Rug Event
When: Wednesday, May 14, through Saturday, May 17
Where: Augustana Lutheran Church, 5000 E. Alameda Ave.
Price: Varies by size, starting at $350

While there’s no guarantee that the 300 unique rugs from South Asia on offer at this week's fourth annual Oriental Rug Event will fly off the floor, the carpets will work magic by adding a sophisticated, global feel to any room of your home. The sale of these functional pieces of art provides more than 800 families with fair wages through Bunyaad, an artisan collective working with families in 100-plus villages throughout Pakistan. Cherry Creek North's Ten Thousand Villages hosts the event at Augustana Lutheran Church this week. We caught up with Denver store manager Charlotte Otto to learn more.

5280: What types of rugs will be featured at the event?
Otto: The rugs are all culturally significant works of art. We feature three main types of rugs. Persian rugs are known for their intricate floral patterns. Bokhara rugs feature fine geometric patterns with detailed borders. We will also feature tribal rugs, which are made from handspun wool and all-natural dyes. Each rug is unique, and you’ll be able to hear the stories behind the artisans who helped create your piece.

How does buying a rug help support the artists?
The rugs support families in rural areas of Pakistan where there are few jobs. Making the rugs is an art form passed down through the generations, and this gives artists the ability to practice their craft outside of sweatshops, where child labor is prevalent. Rug-making is a huge industry in the Middle East, but because we’re a nonprofit organization (and not in the retail rug industry), families receive proper compensation. Buying these rugs makes a huge difference in the lives of children; half of the artists are women.

How does the Oriental Rug Event fit into Ten Thousand Villages’ mission?
Our Cherry Creek North store is fair trade and sells pieces from 38 countries. The event helps with our mission because this gives Pakistani artisans an alternative to being exploited by tourists and sweatshops in their own country. Because we’re a nonprofit, our 50 store volunteers really make this event successful, along with community support.

Why should people attend the seminar on Thursday night?
The seminar is an introduction to oriental rugs. Yousaf Chaman, Bunyaad’s director, will be the speaker [Thursday, May 15, 7 p.m.]. A native of Pakistan, he has hands-on experience working with the artists and can give context to the rugs featured at the event. This seminar will allow people to learn about the process of making the rugs. The night will feature drinks and hors d'oeuvres. 

If you plan to attend Thursday's seminar, RSVP to: 303-316-8773 or [email protected].

—Photo courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages