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When you are in Bhutan, go beyond the alluring mountains. Give yourself a chance to experience one of the finest forms of art, Bhutanese textiles.
Among them, there are three vibrant textiles and clothing to look for.
These textiles are rich yet very intricate in their expression.
Like any other forms of art, they represent weavers’ life. The village she lives in, the natural environment around her and the beliefs she holds. The patterns and motifs, even the colors of dyes used are unique to a locality.
They are treasures every Bhutanese hold close to their hearts. Because they signify love passed down from one generation to another. Not in heirlooms but in knowledge, artistic skills and weaving techniques. It is common to see daughters flaunt kiras passed from their mothers.
To understand better, let’s take a closer look at Kishuthara, Yathra and Bura.
Kishuthara is a type of kira woven from soft silk into intricate patterns. These are woven by women in Khoma village in Lhuentse. Every silk pattern is unique, colorful and handwoven. It takes almost a year to complete a kira.
That’s why Kishuthara is expensive. You can see women sitting for hours in their looms every day. They craft Bhutan’s most beautiful textile with so much passion and poise.
Today, it is every Bhutanese girl’s dream to own a Kishuthara.
As for girls in Khoma village, as early as eight learn this form of textile art from their mothers. They start from a simple kishuthara pattern for a few months. Then advance to complicated designs and patterns. All women gather and weave from a common.
makeshift textile cottage. Moreover, husbands take care of household chores at home showing great support.
Yathra is unique to central Bhutan, particularly Bumthang. You will find a yathra loom in every household. There is not a single woman, young or old, who doesn’t know how to weave yathra.
It is a textile woven from sheep and yak wool to keep warm during harsh winters. In the olden days, Bumthaps (people of Bumthang) would rear a large number of sheep and yaks for yathra. They would shear, clean and make wool into yarns. Those yarns were then immersed into plants and tree barks to bring out brilliant colors. This technique of natural dying lasts longer than the synthetic colored wools.
Weaving yathra was their only source of income and pride.
If you happen to pass through Chumig valley, you will see a wide range of yathra products today. From beddings, bags, chic coats to exquisite cushion covers, yathra make a large chunk of souvenirs from central Bhutan.
Bura, a fine raw silk textile, is as popular as Kishuthara and Yathra.
Bura comes from Radhi village in Trashigang. They make bura textiles using the traditional back-strap loom and natural dyes. That’s why most authentic and high quality bura textiles are only in Radhi village.
This is the same textile you will find high officials in Bhutan wearing. Be it bura gho, kira, kabney or scarf for that matter, bura is associated with rank and wealth. Favorite designs include bura Adangmathra, Jadrima and Mentha among other products.
Bura weavers in Radhi do not throw away leftover threads. Instead, they join each one of them with a knot of purity and weave a new gho or a kira (Bhutanese traditional clothing). They believe that adding threads will add more years to your life if you wear that gho or kira.
In Bhutan: All three types of textiles can be seen at the Royal Textile Academy Museum in Thimphu on display.