Jala in Wangdue is known for dew-yangka (Pseudosasa Japonica) from which Bhutanese arrows are usually made.

Dew-yangka, one of the main sources of income for the people of Jala, however, has now declined due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Thinley Zam, she could sell around 140 pairs of the arrows every year. Not anymore.

The dew-yangka bamboo is harvested once a year. In Jala, each household sells at least 40 pairs of dew-yangkas every year.

Thinley Zam could sell only a few pairs of dew-yangka this year. “The bamboos get damaged. There are insects on the shoot. And people say that the bamboos couldn’t be straightened to make arrows out of damaged bamboo.”

“We couldn’t make any income from the bamboo this year. And selling the vegetables have also been difficult,” Thinley Zam said.

Buyers, a majority of who come from Thimphu, visit Jala to buy the bamboos.

“Because of the pandemic, many couldn’t come for the bamboo,” Thinley Zam said.

Pheygo, 66, said that a pair of dew-yangka sold at Nu 300 from the village. “Once it reaches Thimphu and are turned into arrows, they sell at more than Nu 1,200.”

All 37 households in Jala chiwog grow and sell the bamboos. This has been their business for decades.

The bamboo originally only grew around Tangka Lake, located around 2 hours walk away from Jala.

“A man saw the bamboo growing on a patch of land near the lake. It is believed that he cut a few and made a seko (hat) to protect himself from the sun,” Pheygo said.

The same day, on his visit to an archery ground, he took the bamboo, straightened it and took a shot. It hit the bull’s eye, repeatedly.

Due to its light nature (yang) and because it never misses the target (ka), the bamboo itself is known as dew(arrow) yangka (nimble).

By Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk