Bura weavers of Jamkhar declining

Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

Weaving had always been an art that the people of Jamkhar gewog in Trashiyangtse prized over much else. The women of this community would make sure that the art and the skills were passed down to the next generation. But change is coming and there aren’t many young women who can weave today.

Winter would be particularly a colourful experience. The women of the households would all be out in the sun, on the loom, the elders teaching the young ones how intricate patterns must be delicately fashioned on the fabrics. Such sights are less common today than it was a decade or so ago and what is left of this culture could become more a vestigial flicker in the coming years.

Choezom, 67, said that most of children do not prefer weaving anymore. “Learning and mastering the art of weaving Bura is not easy,” she said. “It takes time to become a skilled weaver.”

She learnt weaving Bura and dye processing from her mother. “The production process of Bura is lengthy and time consuming.”

Villagers say that although the gewog has been known for weaving and skilled weavers, it has never received attention and support like Khoma in Lhuentse.

“While skilled weavers are available in the community, the culture of weaving is slowly fading away,” said a villager.

Chimi Wangmo from Zor village said that in the past people used domestic yarn and dye to weave Bura cloths. “It is now gone extinct,” she said.

For a good number of households weaving is still the main source of income. They get orders for Bura gho and kira from as far as Thimphu and Paro.

Muku, 57, said she did not weave all the time. In a month, she earns between Nu 20,000 and Nu 30,000. “I encouraged my children to learn to weave but they are not interested. Losing such tradition could aggravate poverty in the communities. I am worried.”

Another villager, Deki Choden, said that most women in Jamkhar still continue to weave. “If we don’t weave there is no other source of income.”

It was learnt that every household in Jamkhar has a skilled Bura weaver.

Some weavers say that the availability of imported inferior quality Bura has affected the market for Bhutanese weavers.

A weaver said that the only option to save this art was by establishing mechanised handlooms.

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