"How old do girls here start weaving?" Abdul the Tour Guide answered, "No, no, they are not old."
11.08.2012 - 02.09.2012
Hetian, August 24th 2012
I started my 2D1N Tour with Old Road Tours on a black sedan that had a big crack on the right side of the front window. If you know me, I use to take pictures from inside the car facing the road. That activity was out of question on this car. In my traveling experience I've rented cars quite often, but this was the first time -- hopefully the last -- I got a car with a big crack on the window. How much was the cost for the whole tour? 3640 yuan. That's more expensive than my flight from Urumqi to Istanbul. Actually I required for a group tour, but until D-Day there was no group tour whic I could join in. Later on, after my harsh complaint, Abdul Wahab returned to me 2000 yuan. However still, for all the services that I'm going to tell you about, 1640 yuan is yet overpriced. Moreover, the lost time can't be returned.
Well, well, let's start from the carpet factory.
My tour guide whose name was also Abdul (not Abdul Wahab), ushered me inside. There seems to be many Abduls in Xinjiang. While I explored, Abdul the Tour Guide, sat on a bench near the entrance door. What's the difference between a driver and a tour guide? A driver stays in the car, but a tour guide stays at the door. That's Old Road Tours' version, recommended by Lonely Planet.
The carpet weavers follow a blueprint like this.
From the thread balls on top, they pull the thread.
Sometimes to form a thick figure, several strings of thread are pulled at a time like this.
They have several tools. One is a sickle that has a nail on the other side like this. The nail is used to cut off the thread. I couldn't figure out what the sickle itself was used for. Maybe when they want to cut off a group strings like in the previous photo, they use the sickle.
But when they want to cut off just one string, they use the nail. Maybe.
And then there's a comb to ensure all strings of thread are tied close together.
They used scissors to straighten the surface.
As they weave, they move the horizontal pole back and forth and thus the thread gets weaved into the bone.
Spinning the bone thread.
A close up of an almost finished carpet.
In this whole factory, there are several stands like this with different pattern and size of carpet.
"Do you have anything to explain to me?" I asked Abdul the Tour Guide.
"Errr... oh... uhm... about what?"
"About the process, about anything in this factory. You are a guide, aren't you?"
I jotted down what he said:
- 70% of the carpet production are for export purpose.
- Carpet can be made of silk or wool.
- The making of 2 meters of silk carpet takes 2 months, or 10 centimeters a day. An expert can do 15 centimeters a day.
Hopefully those were correct information. My doubt on him started when I asked him,
"How old do girls here start weaving?"
I asked that, because I saw this girl weaving together. Abdul the Tour Guide probably didn't see her, because at that time he was busy daydreaming at the door.
Abdul the Tour Guide answered, "No, no, they are not old."
"I know. I mean, how old do they start weaving?"
"No, no, they are not old," he repeated. "You can see! They are not old!"
"Uhm, I mean at what age do they start making carpets?"
"Yes, at what age?"
"About 18, after they finish school."
"18? But I saw that girl weaving together just now." At that time the little girl wasn't weaving anymore.
"No, she's just staying here," Abdul the Tour Guide replied.
"I saw her here just now! Look, I took her picture!" I showed him the preview on my camera.
"Oh, she was just playing. She is still small. How can she make a carpet?!"
Watch this! Starting from the middle you'll see the little girl. Do you call that playing??!
Abdul the Tour Guide walked towards the parking lot whereas I saw these signs.
"Are we done?" I asked.
"Yes, we are. You have seen everything already."
"How about these places?"
"You want to see them also?"
"Of course I do!"
"There's nothing there."
"Well, let me see. We are here anyway."
"Usually tourist don't go there. They just see this and this, and then go back."
"Then let me the first tourist to go there."
"What's this?" I asked.
Abdul the Tour Guide could hardly explain.
I think this is a machine to knit the bone of the carpet.
The spinning machine that produce the thread.
Aw, nice color! That's my color.
In this same complex was a smaller factory.
"What's the difference between this factory and the bigger one in front?" I asked.
Abdul the Tour Guide explained that this section was for producing special orders e.g. from companies.
This was a bonus. It's grape season.
Next destination: Atlas Silk Factory