17 Feb Nepal’s Dhaka Handloomed cloth a dying art ??
My journey with Duti on the trail of the Dhaka weavers of Nepal.
“The art of Dhaka hand-loomed cloth is at risk of being lost in time to a mere paragraph in a history book.”
The Dhaka designer explained as we sat chatting over coffee in a small shop in Kathmandu one late afternoon on brisk winters day. We sat marveling at the geometric pattern and the colour combinations of the shawls . One has to have admiration for the incredible skills of the weavers. Each piece a unique individual article of weaving waiting for that certain lady to fall in love and purchase it.
Difficulties of Dhaka
The designer told me that it was becoming difficult to locate skilled weavers. Many weavers were retiring or looking for easier ways of making money. The hand loomed weaving skills that are passed from mother to daughter for generations are in decline due to lack of interest. The designer has been working with weavers from eastern Nepal for over 20 years. Providing them with designs, colour combinations, threads and workshops to improve their skill level. It is important to loom patterns with colours that will compliment modern fashion.
The production of Dhaka cloth is very time consuming and the exquisite geometric patterns depending on it’s complexity, dictates the hours of creation time and sets the selling price .
After making my purchases we departed, myself deep in thought regarding the discussion. Merging into the shadows of the deepening twilight Duti hailed a beaten up taxi and we joined the frantic rush of peak hour traffic in Kathmandu.
The history of Cotton Dhaka is over a thousand years old. Dhaka first appeared in Eastern Nepal, created by women of the Rai and Limbu tribes. The Dhaka fabric was created into everyday clothing. The weavers in these remote villages spun and dyed the cotton threads. Weavers today purchase the threads from suppliers ready to be used.
Other combinations of threads used now are rayon & cotton. The threads on the warp and weft of the loom give the fabric this luminescent sheen that adds an elegance to the finished shawl.
Dhaka has survived turbulent times competing against the cheaper fabrics derived from the power looms. Only the dedication of the village weavers to retain their culture and art has kept it from ceasing to exist.
Dhaka has played an important role in the culture and history of Nepal.
To loose this remarkable hand loomed fabric would be a great loss. In supporting these talented weavers we need to purchase their products. The next generation is encouraged to keep the art and tradition alive by the strength of interest from us.
Check out the Nepal Dhaka shawls on this website and help support the weavers of Nepal retain their ancient craft.