Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse
Women in Jangphutse are busy these days, weaving. They are weaving from early morning until night trying to produce as many Kharza-Kop (hand woven bags of Dakpa) as their hands can manage.
The bags are in high demand during the upcoming event called Wangchen in Tawang, a neighbouring village across the border in India.
For generations, women in this hamlet have been weaving bags, as their main occupation, and trading in Tawang. They travel to Tawang three times every year.
As the traditional weaving is their livelihood, women begin training as early as eight.
Villagers said, Kharza-kop is a popular traditional bag, which Dakpa (those from Tawang) carry during special events and festivals in Tawang , Arunachal Pradesh, a northeastern state of India.
Like most women in the village, Thukten Lhaden, 46, began her training in weaving when she was eight. She weaves throughout the year and her income from weaving helps her to look after her family.
The mother of four said that most of the women weave beside agriculture work. “During vacation, students also weave and earn their own expenses.
Thukten weaves 90 bags in a month and earns around Nu 20,000 from selling them. She said that while it doesn’t fetch her good profit, it is still helping her meet the family’s expenses. “We have to buy yarns from the shop and the profit margin is minimal,” she said.
The bag is woven with intricate patterns and colourful flowers. It is also known for its durability.
Another weaver Karmo said the women in Jangphutse spend half their time weaving the bags. “Some women weave till midnight,” she said. “These days, I don’t get time to weave guarding the crops.”
With fewer sewing machines in Jangphutse, most of them stitch the bags by hand. “If government support us with sewing machines, it would be easier and quicker to produce the bags,” she said.
Villagers said that in the past Jangphutse weavers had to compete with those from Tawang. The dwindling number of weavers in Tawang has created a market and an opportunity for business in Jangphutse.
Weavers said they don’t have to worry about marketing and they can sell at least 50 bags in a day. “Whatever quantity we take, they buy,” she said.
A villager from Dungtse, Singye Wangmo said she weave products along with her daughters during the break at home.
Occasionally, she weaves gho and kira. “Weaving gho and kira consume a lot of time. Weaving bag is easier,” said Singye.
People here also work on farm. Men and women share equal responsibility for the family, villagers said.
A village elder said life in the village has changed with women now earning. “Before it was simple, men worked and women stayed at home to raise the children. But as more women are now earning through weaving, balancing family and work-life became a prime aspiration for the younger generation,” he said.