Following a complaint letter the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) received on November 13 last year, the actual weaver of the kira that bagged the first prize at the 17th National Design and Art Competition (NDAC) was recognised last week.

The public announcement from RTA yesterday identified the weaver as Karma Seldon from Lhuentse. “The title was earlier claimed by Jigme Choden,” it stated.

On November 5 last year, Jigme Choden and Thinley Zangmo was recognised as the weaver and the designer in the weaving category at the NDAC.

After the news about the kira, which bagged the first prize, was reported in the media, the weaver, Karma Seldon had written to the RTA last year stating that she was the real weaver.

A committee was formed consisting of curators, head of administration, finance officer, deputy director and the executive director of the academy to investigate the complaint.

Officials of the academy said the woman who had signed as the designer had admitted that Karma Seldon was the weaver. “The weaver named as Jigme Choden was one of the weavers of Thinley Zangmo.”

It was learnt that the woman had bought the kira from Karma Seldon and then registered in the competition without naming the real weaver.

Officials said that the certificates and monetary prizes worth Nu120,000 were surrendered and that Karma Seldon was provided with the certificate and a prize of Nu 72,000, which is 60 percent of the total prize money. The designer is provided 40 percent of the total, which is Nu 48, 000.

Executive director, Rinzin O Dorji said the weaver was identified but there was still dispute with regard to who the real designer was as both women were claiming to have designed the kira. “Without any evidence we were not able to come to any conclusion.”

She said it was likely that such issues may have happened in the past. “This time we received a complaint and acted on it. It’s very important for us to see this through and that the right people are recognised.”

The whole purpose of the competition is to identify and honour artists’ talent and skills, she said. “This was why there was so much advertisement in media, which is a platform to recognise artists and eventually be an encouragement for them to try and excel at what these artists were doing.”

Karma Seldon said there was no further comments to make stating that she was happy to have been recognised as the weaver.

Rinzin O Dorji said that in the early years it wasn’t so strict and there was no declaration of originality. “The prize money was worth far less. However in 2017, we received funding for this programme, and it was the donor’s requirement that such measures are put in place so that we ensure original designers and weavers are recognised.”

Declaration of originality, she said was a good measure. “We brief them on important things to follow before they register for the competition. Whether  it’s one person or two or three that weavers and designers needed to be named correctly.”

She said that participants were informed verbally before they signed the declaration of originality. “Because in the event that we find out, we will be revoking the certificate, the recognition and the prize money.”

She said that while there were suspicions regarding the  recognition  and prize money going to the wrong people, there wasn’t much to do unless the actual person came forward. “In a way we are happy as it gives us the opportunity to let people know how serious we are.”

The committee decided to stop the two women from participating in the NDAC for the next three years for violating the declaration of originality’s  terms and conditions.  

Rinchen Zangmo