Carpet weaving is the leading cottage industry in Pakistan. More than 300,000 looms are used in rural homesteads, 80% by women and children (60% of which are under the age of 15). The ancient, labor-intensive craft dates back to the 11th century, but what worries modern organizations like UNESCO is the growing number of children at the relatively lucrative looms–where literacy (a staple of democratic society) is not a job requirement. Pakistan is said to have a total of 5.1 million school-age children out of school, two thirds of them female.
This week the Pakistan Embassy in Jakarta hosted a three-day exhibition of the famed Pakistani carpets. Ambassadors from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Belarus, Serbia, Cuba, Nigeria, Russia, Syria and others attended the ceremony. The Embassy plans to launch an even larger exhibition of these one-of-a-kind carpets in 2013.