The tshemzo maestro

Pema Dorji has won, five years on the trot, the annual national design competition in embroidery 

Handicraft: Pema Dorji, 44, from Wangduephodrang, is a prolific embroiderer.  His skills were put to the test when he entered the annual national design competition four years ago.  Since then, he has been winning the prize in embroidery (tshemzo) category.

He proved that he was still the best in tshemzo when he won, for the fifth time in succession, a cash prize of Nu 50,000 in the embroidery category during the 13th national design competition yesterday.

Pema Dorji won the award for the six-foot kuthang of the 21 manifestations of Tara, which was intricately stitched in brocade and silk.

It took more than a year and a half for Pema Dorji to complete the kuthang.  He quoted Nu 300,000 for the kuthang.

Although he never attended school, he said he was happy to contribute in the preservation of the art of tshemzo, Pema Dorji said.

“Today there aren’t many people who know tshemzo and I hope the young generation will realise the importance of this precious art,” he said.

Pema Dorji began his career in tshemzo when he started working in Tashichhodzong 25 years ago.  Today, he works with the department of national properties of the finance ministry.

Along with him, Thinley Zangmo, 49, from Pemagatshel won a cash prize of Nu 50,000 for the best design in kira category.  There was also a category for best design for gho.

It took a weaver in Udzorong, Trashigang a year to weave the intricate designs on the silk kira, Thinley Zangmo said.

“I wanted to participate in the design competition for a long time and I’m happy I won,” she said. “I encourage other women to come up with new designs and test their skills by participating in such competitions.”

Today, she employs more than 50 women weavers across the country and owns a handicraft shop in Thimphu.

Organised by the Textile Museum, the design competition was held at the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) on March 21.

Director of the Textile Museum, Singye Dorji, said the competition provided a platform to weavers to showcase their skills and award recognition at a national level.

“We aim to promote and develop the textile art through such platforms,” Singye Dorji said. “The competition has become a forum of aspirations for participants.”

More than 40 entries were registered including rural participants across the country.  A panel of judges, based on a set of criteria, such as new design and finishing, judged the entries.

The entries will be exhibited and made available for sale at the RTA for a week.

Initiated by Her Majesty the Gyalyum Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the royal patron of RTA, 10 participants were also given meritorious awards during the event.

They were awarded a cash prize of Nu 10,000 each, along with a certificate, for their significant contribution towards the promotion and preservation of the art of weaving and embroidery.

By Thinley Zangmo 

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