Weaving is an ancient art in Bhutan. Taking root in a rural and rustic setting, a uniquely rich tradition of weaving has evolved and flowered over time. With skills handed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, from family to family, weaving in Bhutan is today an art form that is representative of the very heart and souls of the country. Fabrics fashioned in the looms, a veritable feast of magical colors and intricate designs and patterns, are symbolic of the Bhutanese society and the Dragon Kingdom.
The art of weaving although widespread is particularly impressive in Central and Eastern regions of Bhutan. In the villages of these regions, the “thump thump” of the handloom is a common sound and it will be an exceptional household where a woman does not weave clothes for the family and for earning extra income. But essential as these tasks are to the family, they do not convey the actual significance of weaving in society. So deeply is weaving ingrained in the psyche of the Bhutanese people that the woven cloth and dress is closely associated with status, etiquette, as well as social, cultural and religious events as well as occasion of import of textile.
Cotton, silk, wool and yak hair are used to weave fabrics on back strap looms for different types of uses such as men’s dress (Gho), women’s dress (Kera), shoulder cloth, ceremonial cloths, bags, etc., of a great variety of intricate patterns.
You will experience at first hand skills of dyeing and spinning of yarn, sheep wool and Yak hair. The loom and weaving kit, warps and wefts, weaving techniques and fruits of the loom. On the Master Weaver’s Trail Tour you will visit the heartland of the weaving country.
Areas you will visit are:
Bumthang – the home of the famous fabrics, Matha and Setha.
Pema Gatshel - which is an area that holds several insights into traditional weaving at its very best.
Radi – where you will see households with expert weavers producing the finest fabrics. These are the same fabrics that are in such great demand in the markets of Thimphu.
Khaling - not very far from Trashigang, produces fabrics you will see again at the Handicraft Emporium in Thimphu.
Bhutan Textile/ Master Weaver’s Workshop Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Paro Airport. Process visa and received by your tour representative. Proceed to your hotel in Paro for lunch and hotel check-in. Today we enjoy sightseeing in Paro. A visit to the National Museum (Ta-Dzong) is a must in Bhutan. Once, the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, in 1968 converted into the National Museum. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. On the way back visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guardhouses, to the Dzong. Today the Dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork. We as well enjoy a stroll through Paro village where you will find wonderful Textile and Bhutanese handicrafts displayed. Tonight enjoy a wholesome and hearty dinner at a cozy restaurant in quaint Paro village. Go over your itinerary with your guide and return to your hotel.
Day 2: Leaving Paro after breakfast and check out, we drive for two (2) hours to Thimphu, capitol of Bhutan. Along our scenic drive we make a spectacular excursion hike (or pony ride up) to the famous “Tigers Nest Monastery. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 4,000 feet. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava, the saint who converted Bhutan to Buddhism, alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Here we enjoy snacks and tea at the cafeteria viewpoint. Just before we reach Thimphu we stop at Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627, the first dzong built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgayel. Arriving in Thimphu, we check into our hotel for rest and relaxation and enjoy dinner at our quaint Bhutanese style hotel.
Day 4: This morning following our enjoyable breakfast we attend
Thimphu Weekend Market; Load your camera and get ready to mingle
with Bhutanese locals; this is a favorite Bhutanese open shopping
market; the marketplace bustles with excitement as local Bhutanese
farmers sell their produce and family’s get together to shop
and socialize. This is a colorful market and a wonderful opportunity
to experience a true Bhutanese experience. Fun and lively; guaranteed
Day 6: Following an early breakfast, we depart for Bumthang in Central
Bhutan. A long drive on a scenic and breathtaking highway rewarded
by a stop at the Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the royal family.
An architectural wonder built by Chogyel Minjur Tempa, the Third
Desi, in 1648 it is presently the administrative seat of the district
and home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow
spur, the Dzong is an architectural wonder. Views from here are extensive
creating strategic location of this Dzong. Lunch in Tronsga town.
Cross Yutongla pass to the valleys of Bumthang and Chummey, the heart
of the famous Bumthang yatha-weaving region.
Day 8: Drive 65 km unto Khurbazam (Khurba Bridge) and from the bridge
hike one hour to Khoma along the Khoma River. Khoma village is famous
for Kishuthara weaving and it is the main income source of Khoma
villagers. Kishuthara is a silk on silk weaving with intricate patterns.
It is the most expensive textile in Bhutan. Women in Bhutan wear
kishu-thara only on special occasions such as wedding and festivals.
Designing and weaving cloth is the exclusive domain of women and
the most important way in which a Bhutanese woman leaves an impression
of her individuality and creativity. Spend full day in Khoma to see
weaving and do hands on with weavers and learn how the local people
make vegetable dyes. Evening: Hike back to Khurbazam and drive back
to Mongar. Overnight: Hotel
Day 9: Mongar to Trashigang: First drive 3 hours to Trashigang and
check into Doethjung Guest House. After lunch take an excursion to
Rangjung to see Raw Silk Textile Weaving, known as ‘ Bura ‘in
private village homes. The round trip excursion to Ranjung is about
2 hours. Evening: return to Trashigang; Overnight: Guest House
*Day 10: GOMKORA Festival.
Day 11: Drive to Khaling. On arrival in Khaling, visit the Khaling
Textile Weaving Centre. This is a government run Textile Weaving
School where young women from all over eastern Bhutan come to learn
how to weave. Vibrant fabrics and intricate weaves are an inseparable
part of Bhutan’s rich culture. The colors, weaves and designs
have evolved over centuries together. A specific design cannot be
attributed to a particular village alone but also to a home and a
family. Textiles are an evolving art, changing their role as Bhutanese
life evolved. They represent prestige, commodity, wealth, capital
as well as expressions of religious devotion. Textiles, Bhutan’s
premier art is the product of centuries of individual creativity
and transmitted in fiber preparation, dying, weaving, cutting, stitching
and embroidery. Wild silk, cotton, nettle, wool and yak hair are
basic to the country. Bhutanese textiles are a national treasure
and the government policy along with people’s appreciation
will ensure the preservation of this creative art and its tradition.
Evening: drive back to Trashigang for overnight at Guest House
Day 12: Retrace back your journey to Bumthang. This is a long day
(11 - 12 hours drive). En route take a number of breaks for refreshment
and picnic lunch and enjoy the scenic beautify of Thrumshingla National
Park. Overnight: Lodge
Day 13: Bumthang: Today we enjoy a leisure day in central Bhutan.
You can rest and relax and enjoy Bhutanese hospitality at our friends
at the River Lodge. Your guide will assist you in any special request
for your day of leisure.
Day 14: Today visit local textile weaving centers where you will watch the women weave, dye and spin. Visit Jakar Dzong, Jambay Khakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, and Flaming Lake, (Membar Tsho). Explore Jakar and overnight lodge.
Day 17: Paro To Bangkok