Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bhutanese handloom pattern embroidered

Sorry! Not a very clear picture. It's a small simple piece of art that I'm proud of. The cloth is cheap, cotton, readymade. The thread used is the same that we use for stitching/tailoring. I copied the pattern from my kera (handloom woven belt). What do I intend to do with it? Nothing glamorous. Just put it neatly in a frame (wooden, perhaps) and hang it on the wall of my home. Of course, if I happen to open my own boutique shop, I would then display it in my shop. And, if somebody showed interest and wished to buy it, why not? I'd sell it happily. It would make me prouder of my own creation.
I did some reading of books written on handloom weaving in our country. The thing that caught my attention was the fact that many of our handloom woven patterns look embroidered. I was kinda curious. I thought I wasn't fortunate enough to learn weaving from my mom (who's an expert), having lived with my father (divorced) mostly. But, I did learn a bit of embroidery - on handkerchiefs (mostly), table napkins, table cloth, bedspread, etc. So, one fine day, I got my raw materials together and made the above 'whatever' it may be called. It took me one full day - just working on this and nothing else; not even cooking or cleaning.
For me, it was a fusion of the non Bhutanese technique (not absolutely true, if we think of the embroidered thangkas) and Bhutanese handloom woven pattern. I wanted to put my earned skill to some use, but in a way that respected the Bhutanese tradition, at the same time opening up a new opportunity to display the tradition creatively.
What is it that really matters to 'internationals' about our craft? The technique, raw materials used, or the product? Perhaps, something worth surveying. We know they love our designs, but they are shocked at the prices of the products. They say the prices are exorbitant. The Bhutanese team that went to Bangkok last year to participate in an exhibition (and sale) came back very disappointed. Their products were found to be much more expensive that those of other countries. And, if we are to continue to follow the same old techniques (without use of technology), then the chances that the prices will go down is rather dim.
So, what do we do? This is what bothers me ................
(By the way, the product in the picture above is a trial product only. My idea actually is to do the embroidery on Bhutanese handloom woven cloth, ensuring that the yarn/thread used is natural dyed. The 'internationals' love natural dyed stuffs - that's for sure.)

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