Our Commitment to Craft & Culture

At Ten Thousand Villages, we have a soft spot for labors of love. We are often awestruck by the commitment artisans worldwide have to complete detailed artistic processes requiring great skill and years of training. They are undaunted by projects that take hours and sometimes even days to complete, creating one-of-a-kind, high quality products that you’ll love.

Kalamkari Buds Table Runner

Preserving Artistic Legacies

Take kalamkari, for example. Meaning pen work or brush work in Persian, the art of kalamkari began as an illustrative storytelling technique on cloth. A 12-day, 8-step process is undertaken to complete this age-old technique. It requires the skill of dozens of artisans with individual areas of expertise.

The art form was almost lost during industrialization in India in the early 1900s when new, faster methods were put into practice.

But speed over quality is not our style. We are thrilled to be able to partner with artisans in India working to preserve the art of kalamkari. We believe that good (not to mention gorgeous) things take time.

Our Commitment to Craft and Culture | Kalamkari Blooms Napkin

Design Collaboration

We value traditional art forms that are part of the history of a place and people. When developing products, we engage with our artisan partners in a collaborative design process in order to maintain cultural integrity while ensuring that products fit your needs as a modern customer. For example, in Guatemala, artisans working with our fair trade partner Ruth and Naomi use traditional hand-woven skirt fabric still worn in the Guatemalan highlands to make the Start Anew Yoga Mat Bag. The utilitarian modern twist? A pocket with a velcro closure for cell phones and a key hook with a snap closure.

Artisans in Guatemala also incorporate a traditional craft and symbol of identity into the Coffee and Cotton Weekender Bag. This bag features a square of huipil, a distinctive woven piece of traditional Mayan dress still worn in the village of Chontala where Ruth and Naomi is based. Synthetic leather, a more modern material, provides support for the bags handle and base.

Makers’ skills have been passed down from generation to generation.

We work together to preserve these indigenous legacies because they have irreplaceable value. Ten Thousand Villages is not just here to sell handcrafted products from around the world. We want you to know where they come from. We want you to know and respect their cultural and historical significance. We want you to know their makers stories, and we want you to know how they’re made (hint: it’s a beautiful mix of skill, love, time, and heritage). We love craft and culture, and we hope you do, too.

Read More: Our Commitment to fair wages & safe working conditions

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Maddie Murphy

Madeleine lives in Lancaster, PA, where she hopes to stay forever if possible. Most of the time she’s reading, drawing silly cartoons, and figuring out how to be an adult, but occasionally, you might see her outside riding a bike. She’s also enthusiastic about sustainable food systems and has been vegan for a couple of years. Despite everyone’s predictions, it hasn’t killed her yet!

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Mosaic brings you stories that help you make fair trade and global culture part of your style, home and life.