Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck inaugurated an exhibition on trima, a discontinuous weft pattern, at the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) in Thimphu yesterday.

Trima is a complex weaving technique unique to Bhutan that involves wrapping and coiling of the supplementary weft yarns on the warp yarns. Traditionally woven in the back-strap loom, trima patterns were first observed in tunics.

A senior weaver at RTA, Phurpa Wangmo, said that it takes around half an hour to weave a simple trima. “For a sophisticated one, it takes about an hour even for an experienced hand.”

She said that trima is the most difficult pattern for weavers. “While weaving a kushuthara, it takes longer to complete trima motifs as we have to weave many motifs.”

According to the academy, trima can be patterned by coiling both thread ends around the warp on either left or right forming patterns that resemble an embroidered chain stitch. “It can also be patterned by crossing weft threads over each other and behind the warp threads forming patterned motifs.”

RTA’s curator, Karma Deki Tshering, said that trima has discontinuous weft pattern. “The trima is unique to Bhutan. When you look at a trima pattern, people think it’s embroidery but it is not.”

She said that other patterns like the supplementary weft patterns (Sapma) are similar to those existing in south Asian countries except for the trima.

Trima patterns are found in kira, bags, traditional cloth sacks and tunics.

Some of the types of trima recorded by RTA are pigeon’s eye (Parewa mik), monkey’s nail (Prai Tsimba), fly’s wing (Jam gi shogdro), yurung, scissors (Gimtshi meto), amulet (Gau), ritual offering (Torma) and circular rope (Khola thakpa).

According to a press release from RTA, there are four different themes designed under the exhibition that includes Kushung, Kushuthara, Ngosham and Pesar.

The curator said despite the change in time, these unique patterns are still intact. “In Lhuentse, daughters are taught how to weave trima even today.”

She said that although new designs are coming in, she doesn’t think the old patterns are disappearing. “Weaving programmes are being held and weaving is not going to disappear.”

However, the press release stated that the main objective of the exhibition is to preserve and promote the unique and beautiful art of weaving and to highlight and celebrate the technique of weaving discontinuous weft patterns in particular.

The exhibition will be open to the public for the next nine months at the RTA.

Rinchen Zangmo