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The Curious Adventure of the CuriousWeaver

Bhutan The Land of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan is an extraordinary place. I’ve just returned from a trip with Active Travel and have a head filled with weaving adventures and sights that I never thought I’d see.

Handweaving is the main ‘art’ form in Bhutan, it is where you see the most innovation and experimentation of colour and design. Most women know how to weave which allows a wide pool of skill and knowledge to flow in textile design. The women’s traditional dress is the Kira and this is seen on nearly every woman. The traditional men’s dress, the Gho is also worn by most men.

Although I’ve said that weaving is an ‘art’ form, this word diminishes the full meaning and impact of textiles in Bhutan.The creation of textiles is a religious act and colour selection is a spiritual exercise. Textiles contribute to social cohesion in the form of gift giving, wealth accumulation and even as a form of currency. This concept differs so completely from Australian sociey where even though painting and sculpture are considered our highest art form they are not immersed in our social structure and interaction.

The Punakha Dzong getting ready for the Coronation of the new King.

An old Stupa near Bumthang.

I think these are people of Merak Sakteng in traditional handwoven clothing. The felted hats  are made in such a way to prevent the rain from falling directly on their faces. The felted tags divert the rain. How do people think of such useful and yet elegant ideas?

A yak herder and her children spinning yak hair as she walks.

A prize winning handwoven kira (womens dress) displayed by the weaver.

Detail of the previous kira. Exquisitely fine work. Silk warp, silk ground weft and silk supplementary weft patterning.

A 17 year old weaver – already a master weaver.

Buying yarn at the yarn shop in Trashigang – one of my favourite towns on the trip. They had rows of silks and cottons in lots of colours from India.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. This looks like the most amazing trip! I do love your photos – the cloth is truly inspiring.

    November 5, 2008
  2. It sounds like a wonderful trip and look forward to see more from it. I think the traditional architecture looks spectacular as well.

    November 5, 2008
  3. That cloth is absolutely stunning – I’d give it prizes as well. And something else which stands out for me is the herder’s jacket, with those gorgeous blue quilted cuffs. I could just do with one of those as winter sets in.

    November 6, 2008
  4. So, that’s where you’ve been! I’ve missed reading your updates!

    What a lovely trip you had. Makes me wish I could travel more.

    November 8, 2008
  5. your post and photos are inspirational! I’ve been so distracted by politics for the last several months and my fiberwork has suffered. thanks for a nudge in the right direction. 🙂

    November 9, 2008
  6. Hi Kaz,
    Love your photos & posts of your trip. What a feast for the textile lover.
    Did you have to buy an extra bag to bring all the goddies home?
    Cheers
    Shirley
    Nursing a broken ankle :o(

    November 18, 2008
  7. Would you please let me know more about trashigang?Long time back i was a teacher in Tashigang Central School.I bought 2-3 pieces of chadars( a long stretch of cloth to cover the upper part of the body) from a student’s mother(local)who used to weave at home little bit.
    The idea of writing you is that I have a desire to visit the place where i worked and i like to see changes that took place— i remember that small helipad ground, that hospital, my school–i have a very fond memory of that place still. So if you can help–any photos of trashingang?–apart from that?
    I will be very happy if you kindly reply.
    Thanking You, Anjana.

    July 24, 2010
  8. Caroline #

    I am a novice weaver and have been fascinated by Bhutanese textiles ever since seeing them “in action” in the film Travelers and Magicians years ago. I just stumbled across this blog at work so I can’t do a lot of reading right now. I might come up with more comments/questions as I read, but I just wanted to thank you right away for sharing what you learned while traveling.

    November 16, 2010

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