It is rare to see unique designs made by rural Indian women compete against international designers and design studios on the global stage. But this rare feat was achieved by Manu Devi, a young weaver from a small village called Dhanota in Rajasthan. Her unique artisan rug is handmade with leftover handspun yarn with 222,184 individual knots. It went on to win the BW Future of design award, 2019, Kyoorious Design Award (Blue Elephant) 2019, IDA award, 2020 and was shortlisted for the Dezeen Awards, 2019.
Manju Devi is one of the 40,000 artisans part of the Jaipur Rugs artisan network. These artisans work out of the comfort of their homes while making a sustainable living without having to migrate to cities. Women make 80% of this artisan network that is spread across 600 villages in five states.
The artisan rug Aas Pass, which translates to ‘around me’ was designed by Devi as part of the Manchaha initiative. Under this initiative, weavers from rural Rajasthan with no formal design education design and weave rugs based on their creativity and imagination. This is Jaipur Rugs’ most awarded social initiative.
The inspiration behind Aas Pass Artisan Rug
As her first rug that she ever designed, Manju Devi got inspired by her surroundings, like her chulha (an earthen stove common in rural India) and the traditionally hand-painted walls that she saw ‘around her’ in the village. The patterns on the rug are her imaginative interpretation of the rural walls and floors that are often decorated by creating designs from wet cow dung. This artisan rug vividly takes us through the mysteries of rural India and the rustic beauty that every single bylane imbues in itself.
Manchaha: A sustainable design initiative
The Manchaha collection solves the rug industry’s constant challenge with surplus yarn. Handmade rugs made for this collection use hand-spun leftover yarn batches, which cannot be used afresh thereby reducing wastage and making the color palette of these artisan rugs as unique as their design. This is a remarkable example of sustainable production by Jaipur Rugs – reusing and revival from waste.