Grouptour: Culture and Textiles in Bhutan
Date: 13. February-2. March 2019
Price: 3.690 EUR / 4.420 USD
This special interest tour is a treat for textile aficionados. You will travel all the way from the buzzing West to the remote East of Bhutan. The various textile traditions in different parts of the country will run like a “read thread” through your journey.
Cultural highlights and homestays
Despite the focus on textiles you will not be deprived of the most important highlights, Taktsang being one of them. Delve into the world of fabrics, threads and colors in various contexts of Bhutanese society: everyday village life, festivals and religious ceremonies. You will also visit the Royal Textile Academy in Thimphu where the kingdom‘s textile traditions are mapped out. Precious garments and jewelry of the Royal collection are also on display here. Visit weaving studios, shops and art schools where textiles and fabrics are used for various purposes such as thangka stitching, embroidery and boot making. Finally, enjoy the heartfelt hospitality and delicious food during your homestay nights.
Begin your adventure with a visit to the cultural highlights in Thimphu and Punakha including a religious festival. Take a scenic flight to Bumthang where you will learn about the changing practice of sheep wool production, the important raw material for the well-known Bumthang yathra. Follow the national highway to the Kushuthara weavers in Lhuentse and the raw silk (bura) weavers in Trashigang. Also in Lhuentse you will gain insights into newly revived nettle weaving traditions.
Your tour package includes a daylong weaving workshop in Bumthang under the guidance of textile specialist Rinzin Wangmo. Each participant will work one-on-one with a weaver from the surrounding villages. Learn about material, patterns and weaving techniques. An additional dyeing class with exclusively natural products can be organized on-site (not included in tour price!).
Punakha Tshechu Festival
Enjoy a visit at Punakha tshechu, an annual religious festival, where the locals wear their best garments decorated with beautiful jewelry. Witness the sacred dances, ‘cham, and marvel over the colorful costumes of the mask dancers.
Rinzin Wangmo started weaving at the very young age of 10 years. Her mother, a fulltime weaver, insisted that she continue the family tradition in addition to her school education. The art of weaving is very strenuous and can be monotonous at times especially for a little girl. However, young Rinzin got hooked when her first woven fabric, a male garment (gho), was sold at the local market and earned her some pocket money. Many years later in 2008 she was invited to represent the Bhutanese art of weaving at the Smithsonian Exhibition in the USA. Rinzin then realized that her passion for weaving and textiles combined with her interest in social work can contribute to the preservation of this important Bhutanese craft whilst supporting vulnerable rural people. She became a volunteer member of the Women Association of Bumthang where her responsibilities have since grown. Today she is the focal person for domestic and youth violence. Travelling with Rinzin will be informative in many ways!
Karin Altmann: Fabric of Life – Textile Arts in Bhutan: Culture, Tradition and Transformation
* Weaving and warping demonstration, gho and kira dressing
* A personal instructor for each student (one-on-one learning)
* Workshop duration from 9am to 5pm but can be longer if the students want to keep going
* Acrylic thread for beginners because it is bigger in size (diameter) and better for eyesight
* Cotton thread for advanced students with some experience
* Supplementary warp (“HOR”) is recommended for master weavers and not for first timers, as it would be a waste of time.
Later – if interested – you can learn how to prepare traditional biscuits (kapsey) and buckwheat pancakes (khuley). Overnight in guesthouse
This trip is aimed primarily at people interested in culture and the making of textiles and offers a comprehensive and competent introduction of the culture and textile art of Bhutan. In order to unite the diverse interests of the participants, on the one hand a practical focus is placed on Bhutan’s textile art (from the extraction of fiber to the production and dyeing of the yarn to the weaving of the fabrics) and on the other hand a range of activities, excursions and hikes are offered for those who are interested in culture and landscapes of Bhutan. The small group size as well as the availability of a driver and two tour guides allow to divide the group if necessary and thus to fulfill different interests.
The journey offers visits to important places as well as the rare opportunity to delve deeper into the everyday life of Bhutan, by moving away from the usual tourist routes and bringing you together with the people in the villages. In the village life the fusion between textile art, spirituality and everyday life becomes particularly clear and also Bhutans hospitality can only be experienced authentically, if you meet people in the daily life and in their family environment. On countryside we occasionally spend the night with local families in homestays. These are stately farmhouses and the rooms are sometimes very basic, but always clean. After staying in remote villages, comfort is a pleasant change for many travelers, so we can offer you numerous overnight stays in comfortable hotels.
Basic data for Bhutan-Textile tour:
GESAR Travel INDIA
+91-1982-251684 Leh Office
+91-11-41042343 Delhi Office
GESAR Travel AUSTRIA