Blog, Capture & Create, Kathmandu, photographic journal, Photography, Story, textiles.
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Telling the story through textiles.

 

Keeping history alive in a creative way.

On our last day in Kathmandu we had a little free time so friends Ginger, Rose and I took a walk around the area of our hotel.

Just a few doors from the hotel we came across an amazing compound. It brought forth the most amazing surprise.

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Wall hanging made from the handwoven aprons of the Tibetan women.

 On the walls and floors were the most amazing pieces of textile art made from the aprons of the Tibetan women. “pang dens” are the colorful woolen aprons that they wore as part of  their traditional dress.  Even though many of these Tibetans are now in exile in Nepal, India, or other places, many women still wear their aprons, the stripes of which identify their home area and village..

Today, sadly, synthetic materials are replacing the original woolen fabrics, which were dyed and woven in traditional ways.

In the traditional old ways of animal husbandry, the wool was considered purer if the animals fed on uncontaminated, clean grass.

The “pangden” striped apron is sewn of three narrow pieces of horizontally striped fabric woven on a “pit loom”.  Weaving on a portable loom enabled nomadic Tibetans to carry their unfinished work along with them when they moved their flocks of animals.

The warp is usually woven from wool or cotton, and the weft from wool.  The dyes were natural, vegetable dyes, except for a pink chemical dye  with which the women liked to brighten their work.   The vegetable dyes were grown in the wearer’s home area, which contributed to the unique quality of each apron.   You could identify a Tibetan lady’s home village, just by reading the “language” of her apron’s different colored stripes.

In Kathmandu, at one of the world’s greatest Buddhist sites–Boudhanath–we met a man, Tsering Pasang, who has dedicated his life to preserving this very beautiful textile art.  Born and educated in exile in Nepal after his family fled from Tibet, Pasang has devoted his life to preserving this fragile Tibetan culture.

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He buys old aprons and torn fragments of aprons and then cuts and designs them into works of art.

The largest remaining pieces are sewn into beautiful art pieces for the wall, using designs such as the mandala.   Smaller pieces end up as table runners and cushion covers

The money earned in the export of these items goes to support Tibetans in Nepal.   Worn-out aprons are unravelled and the woolen thread is used again in weaving rugs.  In addition, Pasang is teaching young weavers the craft of making new items of good quality.

Sometimes older Tibetan women are delighted when they can see a part of a design which represents their home village.  In this way exiled Tibetans can continue to feel a link to their past and to their home country of Tibet.

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The pieces are sewn on his trusty treadle  machine.

 

A woman was weaving saffron dyed wool  into cloth on a very old loom.

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8 Comments

  1. Those works are so beautiful. What a wonderful find and a wonderful man preserving his art and culture. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

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  2. judyevans2016 says

    Breathtaking – a wonderful story too. That design is similar to a HIdden Wells quilt I made years ago. How lucky for you to discover this on your last day Pam.

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  3. Fantastic post, fantastic pictures. I marked it as this week’s favorite post on my blog for next Sunday! Congratulations on your blog!

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  4. Victoria says

    Hi Pam, loved this blog, strange question, we love the umbrella pictured in the first picture and wondered if we might be able to find it here in the Florida, USA?

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  5. Roslyn Amiss says

    Hi Pam I am returning to Nepal again in April and would love to visit this place. Can you please let me know exactly where it is in Kathmandu. Many thanks. Roslyn Amiss

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