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Seasoning bamboo
Seasoning bamboo

The last maker of looms

Craft: Yarns for weaving Yathra can be imported if villagers are not able to produce enough, but not the looms. They must be made locally.

It is the art of making loom that has made Pema, 74, famous in Bumthang and beyond. He makes looms for his village and also sells them in other dzongkhags.

Pema is now quite old, but he has not given up making looms. His eyesight is still good for his age. He lives in a two-storey traditional house right in the middle of the Chungphel village. He has a small workshop by the side.

Pema makes different looms for different yarns. A loom made for weaving Yathra doesn’t work for weaving Therma. It is just not quite the same.

He said that people don’t buy Thruetha looms for Therma because many have shifted to weaving Pangtha. He sells Yathra looms the most as there is high demand within the dzongkhag.

Pema said that government came up with an initiative to uphold the tradition and art of making looms by forming a group. All the bamboos died the very next year posing problems for the group. Bamboo is an important material required for making a loom.

He said that there are no bamboos today around the village. Some people get him sometimes.

Pema does not have any electrical equipment required for carpentry work. He does all the work manually. He lives with his wife. His only son is not in the village. “Making loom is difficult as one should get perfect alignment and spacing,” said Pema.

He said that there are some people who also make looms, but they do not make them for commercial purposes. “I made complete set of looms a few years ago and sold them at Nu 1,500 per loom” he said. It is been some time Pema hasn’t got any orders.

Yathra looms fetch Pema Nu 800 a piece. His products can sometimes be seen in the shops on Ura-Nangar highway. It takes four days to make a loom.

Some weavers in the village said that Pema is growing old and they are worried. “There are a few who make looms, but Pema is the best,” said a weaver.

Nima Wangdi | Chungphel

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