Nettle weaving – a dying art in Lumang 

Prickly bark turns into beautiful clothing in ancient times

Neten Dorji | old

Sonam Choden of Drupkhang in Lumang Gewog is skilled in weaving fibers extracted from the bark of nettle plants (known locally as jangroo, She weaves everyday household items such as bags, table covers, blankets, gho and kira used in traditional Bhutanese homes.

The 52-year-old woman is worried about the future of her craft. He has passed on his skill to the younger generation of his community who are keen to keep it alive but their interest has been seriously challenged by the unavailability of raw material.

The Sonam Choden are one of the few Drupkhang families that still produce traditional nettle items for a living. The village located north of Lumang Gewog is a 30-minute drive from the center.

Because the work is labor-intensive, many have given up and moved to easier alternatives, threatening the existence of the once thriving craft.

“I started weaving table covers, blankets and other items at the age of 20,” said Sonam Choden, who educated her two daughters in scorpion weaving.

“Everyone needs nettle fiber to make blankets, which are used in almost every household,” she said.

She weaves two to three kira and gho in a year.

For centuries, women in the Drupkhang have extracted, spun, and woven nettle fibers into mats, bags, sacks, and clothing. To make these various items, they developed a lightweight spinning wheel that could be used to relax between household chores or to spin yarn while walking.

“Every household must have blankets. Apart from weaving blankets, they produced blankets and mats for guests to sit on and also used as bed covers,” said Choenzom, a 65-year-old native. “Sometimes, we even gave them as gifts to guests.”

He said that there are two types of Gho and Kira – plain and colourful. The local people do not use any artificial color but the color depends on the color of the nettle.

Although the women of the village prefer to produce their own gho and kira, they sometimes sell them for Nu 50,000 and Nu 45,000 respectively.

Choenjom, who has been weaving since childhood, said she has never made anything made of jangroo For sale.

“Weaving scorpion cloth is not easy, as it is a painstaking and long process,” she says.

fabric making process jangroo laborious: after collecting jangroo Women soak it in water and boil it in wood ash. After this it is beaten and washed. Before hanging to dry, the fibers are coated with oil to prevent them from sticking together.

“It takes about two to three months to weave Gho or Keera,” said Karma Choden. “If there was a machine to spin the fiber, it would make our job easier.”

Despite its importance, the practice of jangrooKnitting is fast declining.

“With the increasing scarcity of nettles coupled with the easy availability of ready-made garments in the market, this trend is slowly dying out,” Dechen said.

“If the villagers can get enough nettle, and if new technology is introduced to spin the fibers faster, maybe the tradition can be saved,” he said.

The local people claimed that the business skills of the ancestors were in danger as the nettle plants were also disappearing. However, they formed a group called Drupkhang jangroo group to keep culture alive

The 13-member group intervened and took initiative to revive nettle-weaving but it did not make any difference.

“Lack of support, we are deviating from what we are good at doing. The business skills of our forefathers are now at risk,” said an elderly woman.

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