Buray: The alternative source of income for Radhipas

Most women in Radhi weave buray textiles when the agriculture season is over

Leading a village life as a single mother of two school-going children is difficult for 33-year-old Tshering Dema from Radhi gewog in Trashigang.

She has been a single mother for the past eight years after she divorced the father of her children.

While farming, albeit arduous for a single mother, is helping her to support her family, it’s through weaving buray (clothes from raw silk) during the lean months that she supports her family throughout the year.

“Many villagers go for pilgrimage during lean months, but I stay back at my village and weave to meet the education expenses of my children,” says Tshering Dema.

If Khoma in Lhuentse and Chumey in Bumthang are known for their Kishuthara and Bumthang Martha, Radhi in Trashigang is increasingly being known for its buray gho and kira.

Most women in Radhi are engaged in weaving buray textiles when the agriculture season is over.

Taught by her mother, Tshering Dema started weaving at the age of 10 and it has been long since she started weaving.

“I am always thankful to my mother for teaching me the weaving skills as it helps me in earning extra income for my family,” she says.

Nimble figures run through the raw silk threads as Tshering Dema weaves delicate designs on a silk loom set she has just started. By the end of the month, she would have woven enough for two sets of burey (raw silk) gho that will fetch her about Nu 15,000 in the village itself.

And with the agricultural season yet to start, many women in Radhi are weaving using their looms set in the verandas of their houses. Besides being the rice bowl of the east, Radhi gewog has equally become known for its unique exquisite buray textiles.

Another weaver, Sonam Wangmo, is weaving a kabney(scarf) after she got an order from Thimphu.

“If we can weave well and if we maintain the quality, there is no problem for markets. I have received many orders, but the problem is I don’t have enough time since I have to manage time with other agricultural works too,” she said.

Sonam Wangmo weaves gho, kira, kabney and shawl and earns more than Nu 50,000 from the buray business.

However, she said unlike a decade ago, not many women in Radhi weave.

“Education and development have sent many young women of this village to bigger cities looking for job. Back then, women also used to weave together in groups but only a few do so today,” she added.

She further said that most weavers in Radhi are middle-aged women and they encourage and teach their children to weave during their vacation to keep the tradition alive.

“This is where my daughter used to weave during her vacation,” Sonam Wangmo smiles as she shows an empty loom near her.

Meanwhile, the mangmi of Radhi, Pema Wangchuk, said the tradition of weaving buray is a lucrative business and people who weave earn handsome amounts.

“The number of buray weavers in the gewog has not decreased because weaving buray is considered as one of the main sources of income for many villagers,” he said.

He added that weaving buray is an alternative source of earning as farmers in Radhi focus both on rice cultivation and weaving equally.

“The tradition of weaving buray is not at a risk of vanishing as many women still weave and run their family from it,” the mangmi said, adding that it’s the main source of income for some of the women in the gewog.

Jigme Wangchen from Thimphu