Hello Delhi, we meet again. As Remake’s photo journalist, this time I am heading onward to Panipat, to learn about the humans who make our rugs.
10 years ago Panipat was simply a small farming village. Then the rug industry moved into town and there was explosive growth, with handwoven rugs exported and sold by major retailers. It is now densely populated, with migrant makers from West Bengal and their families.
The factories are surprisingly quiet places, with very little (if any) automated machinery. Most of the rug-making work is done by hand. I watched transfixed as a man used a long needle to create each long loop against the mat’s backing, with the end result a plush bathroom rug. I was blown away by how much human effort this takes—how much love and care went into making my $19.99 tub-side mat feel perfectly soft and fluffy.
With rugs needing so much human effort there is a sad history of children who are too poor to be in school working in rug factories. I was here to learn more about the efforts of GoodWeave to end child labor and create viable ways for children of rug makers to stay in school.
We had the privilege of spending a day in the life of one maker, Abdul. We got to see him in action working a hand loom at the rug factory and meeting his family and many neighbors, who were very curious about our camera equipment. Abdul’s home is no bigger than two twin beds pulled together, yet he had the hugest heart. He borrowed some plastic chairs to welcome us in, and was proud to share that four of his five children are happily enrolled in school.
Check out Remake’s Meet the Makers series from Panipat, where we will connect you with the incredible people who make our living room carpets, area rugs and bathroom mats.