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Tibetan carpet industry thawing through innovation
update:March 08,2023
A worker makes Tibetan carpet at a factory in Xining, northwest China's Qinghai Province, July 8, 2022.(Xinhua/Geng Huihuang)
XINING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- After a machine weaved a flat Tibetan carpet, workers started trimming the wool on the surface to make the pattern three-dimensional. The pattern then became vivid with cows and sheep grazing and water birds flying at the lakeside.
The full-swing production was seen at the workshop of the Shengyuan carpet group in the Xining economic and technological development zone in Xining, capital of northwest China's Qinghai Province.
"The sales revenue in January surged by 27 percent year on year, and our orders have been booked through the end of March," said Xue Ting, chairperson of the company, one of the largest Tibetan carpet producers in China.
Tibetan carpets were once a daily necessity for plateau nomads to defend against the cold, and the technique of weaving Tibetan carpets has been passed down for some 1,000 years. The fine yak and sheep wool and the delicate weaving skills and patterns made the handmade products popular among overseas and domestic customers.
Now with new machines and sales channels, Tibetan carpet producers have seen a robust operational comeback after the three-year COVID-19 epidemic.
Xue said high-end hotels and cruise ships used to be their major clients, but they were largely affected by the epidemic.
"Last year, our sales revenue was only 73 million yuan (about 10.56 million U.S. dollars), nearly 30 percent less than the level in 2019, before the epidemic struck," she said.
To lower the production cost, the company introduced machines to weave a flat carpet first before manual wool trimming.
"The new production mode has lowered the cost from 2,000 yuan per square meter of carpet to 200 yuan," said Che Guolong, design director of the company, adding that intelligent dyeing equipment was also introduced, with more than 10,000 colors and various patterns available for customers to choose from, compared with some 30 colors in the past.
By developing online sales, the company has expanded its target customers from businesses to more young people for household use, with customized products provided.
The company has also cooperated with research teams at universities to develop antibacterial and flame-retardant carpet products for household demand.
"The market is always changing, forcing us to keep exploring and making breakthroughs," Xue said.
Like Shengyuan, other carpet producers in the development zone are upgrading their products to meet the demand of the market, said Yu Baoshan, executive deputy director of the development zone, adding that the gross output of the industry in the zone is expected to exceed 1 billion yuan by the end of 2025. 
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