Weavers are being trained to make natural dyes from vegetables as well
Dorjibi Weaving Centre Since its establishment two years back, Dorjibi weaving centre has produced only plain weaves, which weavers feel have restricted potential in the market.
The weaves were plain because of the looms used. To encourage mass production, the centre had introduced the Mechi loom, from neighbouring northeast India, and the Laotian loom.
The women weavers from Dawakha, Pangrey, and Dorjibi villages under Chokor gewog can now weave patterns into the kira. This has been made possible with a few alterations in the style of the looms, and with trainings provided by the handicraft association of Bhutan (HAB).
According to a weaver, the mechi loom, which has only two nyes (harnesses), requires three more nyes added, to be able to weave patterns into the cloth.
Pema Choden, 43, a weaver with the centre, said, even in the Laotian loom, they have been able to weave only a few patterns. “We can’t weave as many patterns as we can in the traditional loom,” he said.
With this new introduction, weavers are enthusiastic and optimistic their business will do better. “Last year the centre wove school dress for some school in the area, but despite that we ran into loss,” a member of the centre said.
Another member of the centre said, to supply to students they spent thousands of ngultrums to stitch the uniforms in Thimphu, but there were not many buyers.
HAB’s general secretary Chorten Dorji said the program, by promoting weaving designs and patterns on the frame loom, would also encourage cloth production in the country.
As part of the program, three trainers have been touring the country to teach weavers about Mechi and Laotian looms.
The trainers are also teaching weavers how to make natural dyes from vegetables to 32 women from Trashiyangtse, Trashigang and Kanglung from December 20-29.
“The vegetable dyeing training is mainly to retrieve the age-old way of dyeing from organic matters, which is now no longer practised by most weavers,” Chorten Dorji said. “With easy availability and use, most weavers are now using imported dye, which are mixed with chemicals.”
Onion, doma, and every tree and shrub in the forest, he said, can be used for extracting dyes. “Our country has the potential for producing natural dyes,” he said. “If we can bring this practice back, it can be good for business too, with better colours that don’t fade easily.”
Meanwhile, to support weavers, HAB supplies readymade vegetable-dyed yarn to weavers at nominal rates. The association has also invited a Thai trainer to teach farmers in Zhemgang how to make bamboo products.
Tashi Tenzin, Bumthang