When Damphu town in Tsirang saw some sun after several days of light rain, it was time for Raju Gurung to take up his hobby.
He is passionate about making traditional bows and arrows.
With a sack full of slim bamboo (Yangka, jalasam, sibrum), a lamp, bunch of silk yarn and a white cello tape, he sits outside his house at the Department of Road’s camp above the forest check post in Damphu.
His work requires simple materials but serious concentration.
In an hour, he makes a pair of traditional arrow and a bow.
He said that he can work on it quickly but he rarely gets time. He works as a driver for the DoR and remains occupied even during weekends.
In a month he makes at least 10 pairs of arrow. “Making arrow takes more time. Bow is easy, it can be done quickly,” he said.
He added that he hesitates to take orders from players because he does not get time to sit and work.
Raju said gathering material is tedious. The bamboo for arrow is brought from Jala in Wangdue and also bought from the market in Thimphu.
He said buying from villagers, who cultivate the arrow material in Jala, is cheaper for him.
Depending on the quality of bamboo, it costs between Nu 80 and Nu 500 a pair. For the bow, regular bamboo is used. He buys it from Semjog, Patshaling and Barshong in Tsirang.
Raju holds a record of hitting a karay of 13 in a day in an archery competition on traditional equipment. He broke the record in March 2014 during the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck archery tournament in Changlingmithang. He also holds a record of four dobjii the same match.
His interest of playing archery started in 2005 when he began his career as a driver with the DoR in Sengor, Mongar. Then it was all about entertainment and spending time with his friends during off days.
The father of two began playing in tournaments since 2008. After two rounds of the first tournament he was too nervous to continue. “I dropped and could not play for a year. It was in the fourth match after the gap that I broke the record,” he said. “For me it is more of strength than the bow and arrow that makes a difference in the archery ground.”
The class VI drop out makes at least Nu 8,000 a month by making bow and arrow. If he gets to work regularly, he says making traditional bow and arrow can fetch at least Nu 40,000 a month.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang