KUKES, Albania (AP) — Hate Ora has been weaving carpets and rugs for more than half a century, since learning the craft as a child by sneaking into her aunt’s workshop.
Ora, 64, is now teaching the methods she picked up and perfected to her daughter, nieces and other younger women to ensure there is another generation of artisans to continue the tradition.
Albania once had 13 former state-run factories that produced carpets, rugs, fez hats, folk costumes and other handicrafts. Kukes, a town northeast of the capital, Tirana, alone employed more than 1,200 women as weavers. When the country’s communist era ended in 1990, the local factory closed.
Ora built herself three looms and bought a big supply of wool fibers and other needed tools in the chaotic aftermath. Today, she is one of only a few Albanians still doing weaving work, which doesn’t bring in much money. Kukes, a town of about 60,000 residents, is one of the poorest in Albania, which itself is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
Many of the town’s young people, especially the young men, have emigrated to Western Europe in search of jobs. Women often remain unemployed at home, waiting for remittances from their husbands, brothers and other male relatives.
“Resuming this tradition would be an added value, increasing employment and having a direct social and economic impact on the people’s lives” along with preserving a piece of Albanian culture, Deputy Mayor Majlinda Onuzi said.