Handmade carpets an alternate source of income for rural women in Zhemgang

Most Bhutanese buy imported machine-woven carpets for their homes. In Zhemgang, a group of women from Phangkhar Gewog’s Cha-Ngar-Zam village are weaving handmade carpets or dramtse dhen. They weave carpets of all sizes and designs. The Traditional Drumdhen Unit not only generates profits but is also helping empower rural women.

These twelve women are members of the Traditional Drumdhen Unit. They were trained by the Handicrafts Association of Bhutan to weave carpets in 2021.

Their handwoven carpets are of good quality and the group also uses locally sourced materials.

With the onset of the pandemic, the group could not start production; however, the group is now working in full force. Their products have yet to capture the market.

“Right after our training and setting up this unit, we could not start our production because of the pandemic. We had to keep a long gap in between,” said Tsezom, a member.

“After having skills and experience, I would say it would benefit us a lot because it fetches a good price in the market and I am pretty sure, this will benefit us,” said Lungten Dema, another member.

Despite the promise of good profits, the members say the lack of a proper place to house their production unit is hampering their work. The current structure is government owned and is not in a good condition.

A new centre is under construction below the current location. Members are hoping to enhance production when they move into the new structure.

“The existing structure belongs to the government, and it is very inconvenient and difficult for us during the rainy season because rainwater seeps inside the open space,” said Tsezom.

“Let us see after the completion of the ongoing construction of our unit. We will sell our products through group bank account and not individually,” said Tsewang Lhamo, a member.

Villagers say some youths are coming back to the village to learn carpet weaving.

The Handicrafts Association of Bhutan provided weaving equipment and established the Traditional Drumdhen Unit in 2021.

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