Monday, February 16, 2009

The Mawongpa

(picture to the right from my personal collection)

I visited the training institute for thirteen crafts in the capital. I came across a tailoring group of trainees that called themselves 'Mawongpa' (meaning 'Future'). They had a Thai (or Vietnamese?) lady trainer who taught them fashion clothes designs, using a mixture of traditional handloom woven fabric and factory machine made fabric. They seemed to be getting pretty popular, with increasing orders from both domestic buyers and expatriates working in Bhutan. I had a fine silk handloom woven cream coloured fabric that I decided to give to this group to stitch a designer coat for me. I had already spent over Nu.2000 for the yarn and another Nu.1000 on weaving charge for two lengths of fabric. I gave one length of the fabric. I paid Nu.2000 for the stitching charge and Nu.25 for the Indian factory machine made cotton material for the inner lining. So, in total, the coat actually cost me Nu.3525. I haven't yet had the occassion to wear it. I was thinking it might look better on a foreigner (American, British, etc). So, if I were to sell it I would have to charge .... mmm.... The cost price works out to over US$ 75. Now, how much should my profit be? Gosh! I'm no good at all this. I'll need some advice and time to work it out. I hope some day I'll have my own collection and a boutique shop ..........In the meantime, I do hope some of the Mawongpa passouts have been able to start an enterprise of their own somewhere.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

contemporary designs

(picture above from own personal selection)

I happened to visit the Handicraft Emporium in Thimphu not long ago. I was struck by the contemporary design products that I hadn't seen before. Shawls and stoles of raw silk and fine silk in particular. I was told they had been woven by our very own village women weavers from Radhi and Khoma. The former said to be specialized in raw silk. The latter in fine silk. The designs had been taught to them by foreign experts. I liked the fact that the yarn used were natural/vegetable dyed. I was told this is what sells more at the international market.

What caught my attention the most was the inspiration for the designs. I was told a foreign expert got the inspiration from the surrounding nature mostly. There was the design of the fish in water, the flowing river, the basket, etc. I was informed that even some of our daily practices (traditions) could be an inspiration. One example was our tradition of drying meat, which was used as a weave design. How cool!

I went back home thinking we Bhutanese could learn to be more creative in our weaving. We could fuse our traditional weaving with contemporary designs.