A Tibetan carpet maker plans to come to Silverthorne | SummitDaily.com

A Tibetan carpet maker plans to come to Silverthorne

SILVERTHORNE – Namygal Tashi can’t bring Mohammed to the mountain, so he’s moving the mountain to Mohammed instead.

Tashi, whose family lives in Kathmandu, operates a carpet factory that employs Buddhist Tibetan refugees. But international unrest, civil strife and the SARS epidemic have resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of visitors to Kathmandu.

Hence, the mountain-moving.

Tashi will return to Summit County Friday to take orders for custom-made Tibetan carpets. He will bring photos, drawings, color samples and 30 carpets for people to view before requesting specific patterns.

It’s all part of a pact Tashi has made with Silverthorne resident Deb Hage, who works with adoption and domestic violence centers throughout the world. Hage met Tashi while shopping for a carpet in Nepal.

She bought several, and later, Tashi e-mailed her, saying guerrilla activity in the area has kept tourists away. He asked if there was something Hage could do to help him and his family.

“This is a humanitarian effort,” Hage said. “We can support a whole group of people there and have a lovely carpet to show for it.”

Hage obtained a visitors visa for Tashi, who took orders from a dozen people, returned home to coordinate their creation and shipped the carpets to the United States about four months later.

“The whole goal is to find a way not to give him money, but to give him and his people work so they can earn their money,” Hage said. “I wasn’t interested in bargaining (for carpets). I saw the working conditions. I saw the poverty. I saw my purchasing the carpet as humanitarian aid. I didn’t want to get the price down to his bottom rupee.”

Prices vary depending on the size of the carpet and the number of knots needed to make it, but they are substantially less than what carpet or antique dealers charge for similar ones.

The carpets typically are made from wool or silk and are made on one- to five-person looms. Weavers sit shoulder-to-shoulder on a bench and tie knots, all the while staring at a pattern in front of them. Individual weavers make narrower and smaller carpets, Hage said. Six people might work on six carpets while a seventh calls out the colors.

“They knot at incredible speeds,” Hage said. “They keep their eye on the pattern, and their fingers know where the colors are. It was amazing to watch.”

Chinese, Nepalese and Tibetan people have woven carpets for centuries, using them for bedding, saddle blankets and meditation mats.

People can pick the design, size and colors they want in their carpet, the number of knots per inch (the more knots, the finer quality of the carpet), the height of the pile (the deeper the pile, the softer the carpet), whether they want the carpet sculpted and if they want the edge sewn under or tasseled. Tashi also will have samples of traditional Tibetan designs available.

“They’re irresistible,” said Karn Stiegelmeier, who bought four carpets. “And it was a such a fun experience to pick out yarns and colors for the design you chose. I’m excited about it.”

Hage said she liked being able to have a say in her carpet’s design.

“We were able to design it from beginning to end. We got to mix and match designs from different parts of his book. We got to pick the colors,” Hage said. “I told him, “You make this carpet look gorgeous,’ and he did. Then it arrived, and it was perfect.”

Hage will set up a showroom in her home at 400 Cascade Circle in Silverthorne. People can visit every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between May 24 to June 3. Tashi also is willing to meet people at their homes so he can take measurements for custom carpets.

For more information, contact Hage at (970) 262-2998.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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