My college days friend is from Lhuentse Khoma. Once he received an unusual parcel from home; a sack of Kishuthara Kira. So much I was intrigued by the kind of parcel he received that day, I was awed by the beauty of those Kiras – intricately patterned with great artistic details.
Those beautiful kiras weren’t sent for him – I knew it much later. His mother actually want him to sell them off in Thimphu and Paro. On asking about their prices, my jaw dropped – Nu.100,000 – 120,000! I am talking about their prices 5 years ago. I could get the reason as to why only few Bhutanese women wear good Kishuthara Kira.
The whole episode of my association with my friend made me want more and more to travel his village Khoma in Lhuentse Dzongkhag. I wanted to know more about Kishuthara; how they are actually made; what materials are used; how they are woven.
When I travelled Lhuentse this year to get blessing from the largest statue of Guru Nangsi Zilnon, I made sure to travel Khoma village – land of sought after and expensive Kishuthara Kira of Bhutan. I had good culture tour on textiles of Bhutan.
Khoma village – Location and History
If you are to travel Singye Dzong – the Lion Fortress of Bhutan, Khoma village is the gateway. This small clustered village of about 20 households is on a hilltop between two rivers; Yongla Chu and Khoma Chu. But it’s the standing testimony of thriving hand-loom weaving in Bhutan.
It’s about 7 kilometers away from Lhuentse Dzong and takes about 30 minutes as you’ll be driving through a small and narrow farm road. If you start your journey from Mongar town, it would take about two and half hours. Tourists travelling to Khoma village will probably start their journey from Yonphula Domestic Airport which is about 155 kilometers.
Guru Padmasambhava has also visited Khoma village in 8th century when he was subduing an exiled Tibetan demon king at Singye Dzong. It’s said that he also picked one woman from Khoma as his consort.
So much people in Khoma revere Guru as the person responsible for first coining the name for their village, they also believe that at any point of time one woman from Khoma is a true Khandrom of Guru Padmasambhava.
No oral tradition mentions if Guru also blessed Khoma women with skills and talents of weaving Kishuthara. But it seems they are blessed. It’s known that girls from Khoma village know weaving Kishuthara as early as 7. This means they start earning as high as Nu.50,000 since that age!
Kishuthara Kira – How they are Made
The main material they use for Kishuthara is brocade threads imported from Indian borders across Samdrup Jongkhar. Though in olden days they dyed the threads using locally available materials but now many prefer buying dyed ones to start weaving right away.
Though designs can vary depending upon the talent and skills of a weaver, I was told that an average Kishuthara takes about six months. Some women can come up with good yet beautiful motifs and patterns. Khoma doesn’t have a single household without traditional hand-loom for weaving Kishuthara kira.
During winter when girls students come home, experienced elder women come together in an outdoor shelter where they teach weaving for the young girls. If you have seen Bhutanese movie ‘Kishuthara’ you can relate easily what I am saying.
During my last travel to Khoma, I wasn’t fortunate to see a huge crowd of women chattering and weaving together with synchronizing sound of hand-looms like in that Bhutanese movie. There were just 4-5 women weaving Kishuthara kira.
Best Time to Travel Lhuentse Khoma
Khoma can be a good place for tourists who want to know more about Bhutan’s traditional art of weaving. They get to explore how Kishuthara kiras are actually woven before worn by beautiful models appearing in travel magazines and travel agency websites.
However, your travel there would be more experiential if you plan your travel in winter. But it again depends on your main objective of travelling Lhuentse. If your aim is to learn about Kishuthara kiras; how they are designed; how they are woven, better plan in winter.
Moreover in winter, school going girls will also be on vacation learning the art of traditional weaving from elder weavers. I also want to visit Khoma once more in a winter. I want to see the classroom-like teaching and learning relationship among school girls and senior weaving women.
Recommend to read following travel experiences and exciting travel stories from Bhutan:
- Bumdeling – The winter residence of Black-Necked Cranes in Bhutan.
- Bumthang Travel – The Experiences and Stories of a Traveller.
- Dochula Pass – Travel Experiences with Indian Tourists.
- Travel to Gasa Bhutan – Land of Unnatural Peaks and Hot Springs.
- Mystical Mebartsho or the Burning Lake of Bumthang.
- National Symbols of Bhutan – Travel Bhutan to Discover Them.
- Place to visit in Paro – Chumbu Lhakhang.
- To Trashigang Merak – The Land of Brokpa People in Bhutan.
- Romantic Getaway at Paro Dongkola Temple.
- Trekking to Great Dungtsho – Bhutan’s Lake Amidst Rocky Castles.