In a world where modern conveniences often overshadow age-old practices, the residents of Nagzor-Wuling Chiwog in Orong Gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar showcase the lasting strength of tradition. Despite the availability of imported yarns in the market, the villagers continue to weave using naturally dyed yarns. In this story, our reporter Kinley Wangchuk meets a group of women in the Chiwog who weave clothes using natural dyes.
Yongmin is one of the weavers in Wuling. She always uses natural dyes due to the distinct visual appeal they lend to the clothes.
Yongmin inherited this skill from her parents.
She said the process demands patience, skill and requires a better understanding of the natural ingredients.
The villagers gather various plants, fruits and vegetables to create different pigments yielding around ten different colours.
“People choose woven clothes with natural dye. The colour of the imported yarns from the market easily fades away. Whereas the naturally dyed ones do not fade away. I think the younger generation will practise it,” said Yongmin.
“Imported yarns from the market are dyed using chemicals, so the colour fades away. People demand the clothes dyed naturally, so we are still practising the art,” said Pema Dechen, a weaver.
Some of the weavers in the Chiwog who rely on imported yarns also shared the importance of preserving the art of natural dyeing.
“I don’t know how to use natural dyes, so I use imported yarns for weaving. Now I am learning from elderly people about natural dyes. Compared to imported ones, I think natural dyes are better,” said Tshering Yangden, a weaver.
“Naturally-dyed clothes are sold at higher prices and even tourists opt for such clothes. Our parents have practised the art and it was passed on to us. We are continuing the art,” said Animo, another weaver.
Not only is the community helping preserve the traditional art but weaving is also one of the main sources of income for the women in the Chiwog. They will go a long way in helping preserve the art which is slowly disappearing from Bhutan’s cultural fabric.