In November 2017 I travelled to Bhutan and Nepal in search of textiles and found a treasure trove! Both countries have long traditions of weaving beautiful textiles.
In Bhutan women and men wear traditional textiles that they weave themselves. The women wear a KIRA and the men wear a GHO. The skirts and sashes are usually the kushutara weave – a discontinuous supplementary weft – very complex geometric pattern with lots of colors, similar to brocade.
They also use textiles in their prayer flags – both white ones -to honor the dead- and colorful ones. They all have mantras printed on them and look so beautiful blowing in the breeze everywhere. The white ones are in groups of 108, an auspicious Buddhist number. The colorful ones are blue, green, red, yellow and white – symbolizing the elements of water, wood, fire, earth and iron respectively. They also stand for the five dhyani or meditation Buddhas, the five wisdoms, the five directions, and the five mental attributes or emotions.
Textiles are also used in religious ceremonies and dances and as religious decoration in their Buddhist monasteries called DZONGS which have the most enchanting architectural details.
We also visited a school for arts with lots of young people learning the traditional techniques and styles. It was surprising to see that many embroideries were made by young men and the boots by the young women.
Another important textile used as rugs, bed-covers, or heavy shawls is YATHRA – handwoven, hand-spun wool in large geometric designs.
Almost everywhere in Bhutan & Nepal we saw women weaving (even on their porches), sewing, dyeing with natural organic dyes and spinning.
In NEPAL we observed the weaving of DHAKA textiles at a weaving co-op. We loved the rich colors and geometric designs in silk and cotton.
We also visited the NEPAL SILK FACTORY, also a women’s co-op for growing, spinning, weaving mostly raw silk. Everyone there looked so happy to be there and with our visit and they took photos put US on their facebook page. We also went to places where they wove with nettles and with banana fiber.
I could not resist purchasing quite a few textiles as you can see here. The trip was organized by Serena Lee Harrigan of Textile Odysseys http://www.textileodyssey.com. This was my third trip with her – Southwest China, Indonesia and now Bhutan & Nepal – always a grand adventure!