|frequently asked questions
Answers to our most frequently asked questions:
1. How are mbala rugs made?
- How are mbala rugs made?
- Who are the Zulu people?
- May I change existing colours or design?
- What is your textile composition?
- How are mbala rugs coloured?
- What is the best method to clean my mbala rug?
- What rug sizes are available?
- Are mbala rugs reversible?
- How do I order a rug?
- Is shipping/ handling included in the price?
- Do you sell through any stores/ outlets?
- What are your payment terms?
- How long does it take to process a custom rug order?
- Do you guarantee colour/ size?
- What is your refund policy?
- What is your fair trade policy?
- What size area rug do I need ?
mbala rugs are totally hand woven from high quality wool. They are made by rural Zulu women on upright wooden frame looms, using a tight, flat weave. This ensures durability and reversibility.
2. Who are the Zulu people?
The Zulu are an African ethnic group of about 11 million people who live mainly in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The Zulu played a major part in South African history during the 19th and 20th centuries. Under apartheid, Zulu people were classed as second-class citizens and severely discriminated against. Today, they are the most numerous ethnic group in the country, and have equal rights along with all other South Africans.
Many remain impoverished, living in huts in small villages. The villages lie nestled in the rolling hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Electricity and running water are a luxury, so most homes use kerosene lamps and the villagers (usually the children) walk a few miles to draw water from a well or potable site.
The Zulu people's lives are simple, unrushed and uncomplicated. They have always been known as a proud nation and history books are filled with stories of their greatest warrior-King Shaka Zulu.
3. May I change existing colours or design?
This is a key feature of mbala rugs--we are happy to work with you to create a design, or modify colour or size to suit your needs.
4. What is your textile composition?
mbala rugs are made from the finest wool sourced in South Africa, which compares to top-grade New Zealand wool. Acrylic is added to the twine in a ratio (wool:acrylic) of 80:20. This ratio creates a softer texture and makes the rugs more durable.
5. How are mbala rugs coloured?
Our wool is professionally dyed. Over 200 colours are available.
6. What is the best method to clean my mbala rug?
Washing by hand is preferred. The best method is to lay rugs outside on a flat surface and wet thoroughly with a garden hose. Lather using a bar of mild soap. DO NOT use a bristle brush - an inverted saucer is a good tool to create lather and to form suction to remove dirt and grit. Rinse thoroughly with a hose, ensuring that edges are cleaned properly.
To dry, leave horizontal until excess water has drained, then hang over patio furniture. Rugs generally dry within 1-2days. PLEASE NOTE - excessive direct sunlight may weaken colours.
Small rugs can be machine washed on a wool cycle. Note that, depending on your washer, rugs may become creased and do not always wash evenly, therefore hand washing is still recommended.
7. What rug sizes are available? (1 meter= 3'3")
mbala rugs are available in multiple widths, lengths, designs and colours. An average area rug is 1.8 x 1.2 m. Our largest size is 4.5 x 4 m. Please see our "rugs" section on this site for our current selection.
8. Are mbala rugs reversible?
All rugs with tassels are completely reversible. Rugs without tassels have their warp edges worked under, therefore reversing them is not recommended.
9. How do I order a rug?
Visit our order page or fax us at +1 604 461-3665. For custom designs and colours, details will be specified via email, fax or in person.
10. Is shipping/ handling included in the price?
Shipping and handling within Canada/U.S. is not included - an estimate will be given at time of final order confirmation.
11. Do you sell through any stores/ outlets?
Please visit this website for details on our Vancouver showroom opening spring 2007.
12. What are your payment terms?
We require a 50% deposit once your final order is confirmed and signed, with balance payable on delivery.
13. How long does it take to process a custom rug order?
Creating a beautiful custom designed rug is like preparing the perfect meal - part of the fun is in the planning. To ensure the joy of a rug for many years, we need to put effort into specifying the details. Once the design is finalized, a new custom template is made and sized to actual dimensions. The wool colours are ordered and delivered together with the template to the weavers.
Hand weaving takes time and is affected by the number of colours used and design intricacy.
Therefore, for an average rug, allow 8-12 weeks for creation and importing.
14. Do you guarantee colour/ size?
As with any handmade product there will be minor fluctuations in colour, design and size. We strive to attain the highest quality achievable and will try to match our goal specifications exactly. Hand woven rugs are unique in the sense that it's not possible to identically duplicate any other rug - a fact that makes us proud and ensures that your quality rug has no match! Minor imperfections are an inevitable part of hand made products, and are often introduced deliberately to create a unique piece.
15. What is your refund policy?
If you find your rug deficient in workmanship we will offer a replacement or provide a full refund, as long as the rug is returned in the same condition it was bought. Please bear in mind that perfection is not realistic when dealing with hand made products.
Custom ordered rugs that are "not quite what a customer had in mind" have a "no refund" policy.
16. What is your fair trade policy?
We strongly believe in the upliftment, education and enhancement of our rural weavers. We are in the process of applying for International Fair Trade status. A fixed portion of income is dedicated to provide improved working conditions, sanitation, transport and medical care. We absolutely do not use child labor of any kind.
17. What size area rug do I need?
A living room rug can be any size, from an accent rug in front of the couch to a large rug that nearly fills the room.
A bedroom rug is often large or a combination of 2 rugs, or rug/ runner combination.
A dining room rug is influenced by room size, size of dining table, presence of side cupboards and frequency of use.
Consider some of these facts/ questions:
- Will the rug be foreground or background?
- Multiple rugs define multiple spaces.
- Several rugs can be used to create multiple spaces to bring intimacy to a larger room .The idea is to organize space into more personal/ livable areas.
- Modern trend towards smaller rugs. Hardwood floors are popular, natural and beautiful. It does not make sense to completely cover hardwood - the idea is to enhance the natural beauty of the wood with a rug that complements the design of the room.
- Furniture (couches, loveseats) abut the rug, but do not cover the rug. When you sit on the couch your feet are on the rug. You can appreciate the rug's design and colours because it's not hidden under the furniture. This also makes economical sense - why pay for extra rug that is hidden under furniture?
- Adding 2 or more rugs to a room. It often makes sense to combine 2 or more rugs in a single space. These rugs should complement each other in design, colour and texture, but should not be identical. Reversing colour or design often creates a very interesting look