Prisoners became weavers for the Jaipur Rigs Freedom Initiative.

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A baker with his own creation
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A viewer with your own creation Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Fading cultural traditions, memories of his wife, daily prayers, and the pace of life. These are just a few of the ideas brought to life on the loom by Jaipur Rugs’ Freedom Manchaha project. In a sustainable development initiative launched in 2018, long-term inmates of Jaipur Central Jail, Jaipur Open Jail, Alwar Central Jail, and jails in Bikaner, Dosa, Ameer, and Bharatpur design carpets. “Each rug represents the capacity of one’s imagination,” says Jaipur Rugs director Yogesh Chaudhary, adding that the main idea behind the initiative is to make inmates self-reliant, and help their loved ones. “25% of the income earned is contributed to their families.”

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Yogesh explains that till date, 200 rugs have been produced under Freedom Manchaha, and by the Jaipur Rugs Foundation (JRF). As a part of this project, several training workshops are conducted for skill development of prisoners. “While learning to knit, inmates are encouraged to express their creativity, and the foundation also helps them open bank accounts to receive direct payments for their work.” Take for example, friends (meaning, friendship) Designed by BP Singh, Kabel, and Zaman Badshah. BP Singh, who loves to play cricket, was reminiscing about his childhood days in Uttar Pradesh when he used to weave carpets with motifs of balls, kites, dots, lines and hearts. “The carpet symbolizes their friendship in prison, and includes vibrant colors that reflect their personalities,” he adds.

Yarana was designed by prisoners BP Singh, Kabil and Zaman Badshah.

friends Designed by prisoners BP Singh, Kabel and Zaman Badshah. Photo credit: Special Arrangements

He added that each carpet is made of 2,22,184 individual knots per square meter, using hand-spun leftover yarn in carpet production that could not be used otherwise. Depending on the raw material, size and quality of the carpet, it takes an inmate three to 10 months to weave a carpet.

Looms are set up by the foundation in open prisons (places where inmates are trusted to serve their sentences with minimal supervision and perimeter security), and a branch manager oversees all prison projects. “Each prison is assigned a trainer by the JRF who conducts workshops and training programs. Inmates are trained for between three and six months, and are trained to find dyes and different materials such as wool and bamboo silk. The method is taught,” says Yogesh. At a later stage, they are taught weaving and how to create their own color rhythms in carpets.

Bunker with your creation

Weaver with his creation Photo credit: Special Arrangements

I the way (meaning, path), through Mudassar and Majid, the weavers depict the lost paths of their village in vibrant colors of purple and blue. It shows their desire to go away from their home. Majid wants to meet his four children whom he has not seen in five years, while Mudassar wants to return to his family. The carpet presents the incompleteness of his life in the form of half-built villages, paths. Thank youa sweet snack,” Yogesh concluded.

On top of 50,000 at

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