He was about 14 when he first laid his hands on the hammer and anvil. He would just be helping his father and learnt the art of shaping household tools out of metal pieces.
Padam Lal Biswa, 59, is one of the most sought after metal workers in Tsirang. He spends most of his time in his workshop beating metal, designing different types of weapons. He makes sickle, patang, khukuri and spade, among others.
Behind his house in Tsholingkhar-toed is a hut. Here is his workshop, a simple affair. An old bellow, a few hammers, and some blacksmithing tools.
“This work place was designed during my grandparents’ time,” he said.
Blacksmithing is a dying art. There are only a few blacksmiths in Tsirang today.
Padam Lal has 100 sickles to make. He received the order from Gelephu. He also has an order for 10 patang, two of which he already finished making. He can make only about three sickles a day.
About eight years age, he used to make at least a dozen farm tools in a day. But after he fractured his right hand in 2001 after falling from a roof, his performance at work drastically dropped.
He is also a certified Level 2 metalworker recognized Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.
Padam Lal said blacksmithing is a dying art and the youth are not interested in it. “I’m ready to teach all my skills to any interested learners, but no one seems to like this job,” he said. “I’m afraid this art will die with me.”
Padam Lal makes Nu 15,000 a month roughly. Sometimes, his monthly income crosses Nu 30,000.
He has four sons; two have picked up the art. “They work only in my absence. Otherwise, they are occupied with other works,” He said.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang