Kushuthara weavers of Khoma struggle to sell their products

The weavers say they have started stacking Kushutharas at home

The Kushuthara weavers of Khoma gewog in Lhuentse have kept the textile heritage of Bhutan alive. However, the business is struggling now due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of a market to sell their products.

Most of the weavers say that the business of Kushuthara (intricate patterned silk woven kira (national dress for women in Bhutan)) has come to a standstill for almost three years now. Weaving Kishuthara is one of the main sources of income for the people of Khoma gewog.

Khoma gewog Tshogpa, Sonam Darjay said the culture of weaving Kushuthara has been there in Khoma gewog for a long time.

“Due to the pandemic, Kushutharas have been stacked in most houses as people are unable to sell them,” he said, adding that weaving Kushuthara is the main source of income of the villagers for a long time.

According to the Tshogpa, weaving starts once a child reaches eight years of age and the weaving pattern changes as their age increases.

Tashi Yangzom from Khoma gewog in Lhuentse began weaving when she was eight. Today, the 45-year-old is left with stocks of Kushuthara at her home worth Nu 255,000 as she is not able to sell them.

Prior to the pandemic, she said she used to sell around three to four Kushutharas in a year. The present Kushuthara, which she is weaving, is worth Nu 200,000.

According to her, a few officials visited Khoma with a plan to bring a new showroom where they can weave and sell their products.

“However, the weavers are still waiting for it to commence. Such a new place to weave and sell would benefit all the weavers because I heard that even fibers will be provided, which means that we don’t have to go and buy from other places,” she added.

Another weaver, Pema Yangchen said she also has Kushutharas stacked at her home worth Nu 200,000.

She said she used to earn on average Nu 250,000 earlier and that she is hardly able to sell a single Kushuthara now.

She said the pandemic has affected the Kushuthara weavers and that a new showroom will benefit everyone.

“Everyone is waiting for the work to commence,” she added.

Another weaver, Jamyang said she has started to weave only when she gets or receives an order. 

“If I weave more, they will only be stacked at my home. But we are looking forward to the new showroom as it will be the first ever showroom in the village,” she said.  “Hopefully, the work will commence soon.”

Before the pandemic, weavers in Khoma say they used to earn more than Nu 200,000 on average in a year.

Meanwhile, a weaver takes almost a year to complete weaving a Kushuthara. The kiras come with the most complicated patterns and the prices differ depending on the designs and quality of the brocades used.

Most of the women today are weaving when they get an order and many are sustaining on their past savings.

Sonam Tashi from Lhuentse