Shopping. Here is a bit of my stash.
Thimphu. A Fantastic place for a great hot chocolate. Like drinking chocolate pudding. The pizza is good –recommended by a reliable source. Try not to miss it when in Thimphu.
Great bookstore in Thimphu. Lots of books in English and books about Bhutan. I’m sorry I didn’t buy a book about the fabulous birds in Bhutan.
Paro. Today was our next to the last day. It’s the place where tourists enter or depart from western Bhutan. It is in this lovely valley. Most of our group is hiking up to the tigers nest tomorrow for the day. Cathy and I are going to hang out in the town and shop and figure out how we will pack our suitcases.
Paro. Our last views of rice fields. We’ve seen rice paddies at all stages on the trip in India and Bhutan. These look like they will be harvested soon. The patterns are so beautiful. There are lots on terraces in the mountains.
The famous Tiger’s Nest monastery where everyone but Cathy and I are spending most of the day hiking up and back. I’m glad not to be going. Hiking all day doesn’t appeal to me even though I know the view at the top will be great. They are leaving the hotel at 7:00. I think we’ll set the alarm for then. We have to leave the hotel at 5:30 am the next day for the airport. The official name of the monastery is Taktsang.
Around the market stalls are the mothers’ children. These posed and mugged for me. First one then the other was ready for the photo. Finally they were in sync. A really nice way to end my reports.
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The loom used for weaving wool. A four-shaft floor loom. Very primitive with re-bars on top to hang the pulleys from. Quite a change from back strap looms with fine and dense warp threads. The wool warp and weft threads were not so fine or dense.
A close up of the wool loom that shows how primitive the mechanism is to hold tension on the warp beam. Re-bar again. Making a ratchet is difficult and many other solutions to keeping warp tension exist.
This is how the cloth beam folds the tension.
This is the woven cloth. It’s a plain weave with supplementary wefts.
This guy took my picture. Up close.
This guy held on tight to his toy at the festival.
On our second day in Jakar in the Bumthang district we drove out to the Chumey Valley to see wool weaving which the Bhutanese call yathra. This handicraft shop sells finished goods and does a lot of natural dying of local wool.
Here are dye kettles and the wood fireplaces that would heat the dye baths. It’s interesting how the wood fires we’ve seen work. The end of a log or piece of wood would be lit and as it burned it would be pushed farther into the fire.
The women gathered to pick up the dyed yarn to weave at home.
A women leaving for home with her yarns for weaving.
This woman couldn’t lift her load no matter how she tried.
With help she got her basket up onto her back.
One woman’s load of dyed yarns.
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Bumthang district in central Bhutan. Tamshing Monastery. This local festival drew a big crowd with adults and children in their best traditional clothing. It’s the Tamshi Phala Choepa festival. The official religion in Bhutan is Tantric Buddhism. The dancers and clowns reflected these religious beliefs. We watched for 2 hours captivated by the colorful dances, clowning, and the villagers attending.
Two of the clowns.
This was a major part of the clowning. Our guide told us it was to tell the people about using condoms. Traditionally this symbol was given by a monk long ago to protect the people. They were displayed in homes we were told and we saw them in shops and places where we stopped to eat. One place had the atenae for the TV draped on it. This clown came up to our faces–too suddenly to take a photo.
Lots of little boys there were playing with toy guns. I felt there was a connection to the theme of the clowns.
Typical photo of boys and their guns.
This little girl and her sister squirmed and fidgeted next to us during the dancing and wanted me to take their picture. I couldn’t resist. The girls were fascinated with my camera so I let the older sister watch through the camera while I held on to the cord. Sweet.
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It took all day to drive to our destination of Mongar. We were stopped here for road construction and then again for an hour so didn’t get to stop to see any weavers at all. Lots of single lane areas, switch backs, slides and huge potholes again today.
Stopped along the way to take pictures of this rainbow in the distance. We didn’t get the rain thankfully.
Getting close to sundown in Mongar. Tomorrow we’ll visit the village of Khoma to see weavers. Horray!
This kind of construction is common along our trip. Finally got a chance for a close photo.
There was a real buying frenzy. A lot of money was spent on gorgeous textiles. The village women came with bags full of woven pieces. The best were large pieces made for women’s ware.
After dinner our waitresses at the hotel showed us how the woven cloth was wrapped to form a dress. Two safety pins held it together at the shoulders. A tight sash held a big tuck in place at the waist which would held all the things one would put in a purse.
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Sunset last night from our window. We are outside the town of of Trashigang. I understand this eastern part has the mountains so am sending more mountain pictures. It’s hard to choose which to send.
Sunrise from our hotel window. We are perched on a mountain. The mountain scenery is spectacular.
Bhutan more mountains, winding roads and river. Road construction and mudslides have altered our itinerary. The switch backs are frequent and tight. Often there is only one lane because of construction being done by hand by laborers from India.
We have visited one or two weavers each day. All backstrap looms in the mountains. All with very dense warps of pretty fine yarns. This was a silk warp. Have seen cotton and raw silk warps too. This woman was weaving fine silk yarns in complicated small patters. Each row seemed to take forever. Silk on silk. And a large piece was priced at $1000. Cheap for the work.
At one weavers home this young mom carried her baby all over the place. She wasn’t the weaver however. We walked down and up a mile on a rutted dirt road to get there. It was hot. I was glad to have my umbrella and fold up cane.
A weaver of raw silk. Just plain weave but the warp threads were very close together. Here she is getting the opening ready so she can throw her shuttle with the weft thread.
Bhutan Day 1 – Here we are in the eastern part. We drove up and up mountain roads that hair- pinned back and forth. Lovely greenery. No on got car sick but I didn’t weave either. Lots of fog part way up. Road construction many places with mud and rock slides and laborers from India working on repairs and widening the road. I didn’t look down when my side of the bus was on the edges of the cliffs.
Nice clouds on the mountains. We are in the Himalayas foot hills now.
Hard to show all the mountains at once. Everywhere mountains sky and clouds.
Rice paddies near the top lovely color in the afternoon light.
A glimpse of how the rice paddies were situated.
The entrance to our huge gaudy hotel. Our bathroom you could play soccer in. Good enough WiFi and food for Americans. We almost wish for something more modest in the town so we could go exploring the local color. This is perched on a hill top up a long muddy and ditty drive way staying here two night for a change so don’t have to pack up in the morning and can do laundry. Off this morning to see weavers. I’ve been giving shoe elementary weaving and textile lessons after dinner. I love it and people are glad to know what a selvedge is!
Silk Production on a Small Scale. Our last day in India. This is what I came to see. These are tiny young silk worms feeding on leaves on a tree out in nature. Actually it’s like a small farm where the trees are grown and silk worms raised.
The breeze was moving the leaves so they aren’t in focus but I hope you can see where the silk worms have nibbled at the edges. They eat voraciously until they are as fat as a thick thumb. Then they crawl down the tree and settle in some dead leaves to make their cocoons.
Here is a cocoon that was made on a dead leaf. The cocoon is make of silk that the worm extrudes.
Here are cocoons from different species that make different types of silk. The gold ones are prized for color and smooth fabric. The silk strands are unwound from the cocoon into very very long threads. This is achieved because the worm (pupae) is killed before the mature moth emerges from the cocoon. This is called reeled silk because the strands are reeled off of the cocoons. Muga silk is what this golden silk is called. The white cocoon is from another species called eri silk. For this type the mature moth is allowed to break out of the cocoon. That makes a hole so one continuous strand cannot be reeled off. The silk is white in color and isn’t smooth because the silk fibers have to be spun into threads note the hole in the white cocoon where the moth came out.
Muga silk cloth. Smooth and golden and prized. I was able to buy a piece 8 meters long and 40″ wide. I’ll share it with others in our group. It is crisp and gorgeous.
Eri silk cloth. Often there are slight variations in thickness of the threads when the threads are hand spun. If they are spun by machine the threads would be uniform. The cloth feel and looks a bit like cotton except there is a difference in the way it feels.
Trying to Get Your Chickens in for the Night. I may have my days confused because on my birthday (9/19) we were sequestered in our hotel all day in the town of Along by the government to somehow prevent refugees from Bangladesh in. So our itinerary was set back a day and we drive almost all day long from place to place. Anyhow it was dusk and I think we were outside the town of Ziro when we saw this hilarious scenario of an old woman trying to put her hen and baby chicks into their basket for the night.
Finally I take a look at the woman herself and see that she is one of the villagers we hoped to see! Besides, don’t you think she’s glad that nightly ritual is done?The woman’s face close up shows us her nose plugs! They identify her as being from her village/tribe. We had seen a woman earlier who posed for us to take her picture but it was so much better to see her going about her business. We all thought she seemed afraid of the chickens.
Another Woman with Ear Plugs. This woman was coming out of her house when we walked past. Our guide takes to her and she let us take her picture while our guide chatted her up. Her face has such wonderful expressions I couldn’t just choose one photo. Notice the tattoo as well as the nose plugs.
She posed with each of us. Our guide gave her some money when we left.
We saw this woman in a rice field in the village. They put tiny fish in the water when they started growing the rice and now that the rice is tall the fish are grown and she had just caught one. Since she wasn’t going home right away she put the fish in a basket and put another basket inside the first one so the fish couldn’t escape. Then she put them back in the water channel until she was ready to take it home for dinner. I liked her face a lot. She only had the tattoo and I nose plugs. Only the old women have done this we were told.
The rice near time to harvest.
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A man in his tribal hat was at the market in Ziro, India. It was hard to get a good angle but our driver modeled it in the next photo so one can see the unique details.
A close-up of a spectacular man’s hat. The yellow is the bill of a Hornbill. The feathers are special. The claw is from an eagle I think. A man in this ethnic group wears it proudly. The black fur in the front is bear fur I believe.
A local woman’s skirt at the market in Ziro India. Each village had differed skirts in different colors and patters but all were worn like this with western blouses etc.
A mother with her baby at the market. We have seen alt of babies and all carried in similar manners. Many woman wore pants and many wore the traditional skirts.
Two women walking outside of the market. This was what we saw a lot of women wearing too.
Women often carried enormous loads on their backs. This is like the basket I bought worn on her back at the beginning of her shopping. The headband and rope is called a tum line I think.
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Morning at the Market in Ziro, India. The stalls can be simple but they almost always are tidy with produce carefully arranged.
The butcher lady at the market. I selected this photo instead of the one with her hefting the clever because this one showed her bloody hands better.
This woman was selling vegetables and woven head bands called tum lines I think. Here she is preparing the strands. A lovely close up of her is my next photo.
She was so sweet when she posed for us to take her picture. Notice her tattoos which represents her ethnic village.
My basket lady. I bought this gorgeous woven basket. I’m relieved to know it fits in my new duffel bag.
This basket is especially for a rooster and i heard it crowing. My Uncle Charley told us that the way to keep a rooster from crowing was to put him in a low cage so he couldn’t raise his head. I was thrilled to see this born out today. Notice the pointy basket was the rooster’s. the other baskets nearby were not quite as tall and were all flat!!
I took this video to show how terribly bumpy the roads are. A 10-hour trip. I sat behind the driver and held my camera steady. I hope all the jerking conveys the horrible ruts (not a strong enough term for the holes, water pools, mud , cows, rock and mud slides and meeting on-coming trucks, buses, motorcycles) we suddenly encountered at any moment coming around the curves in the one lane road. It was a road connecting two towns–not a country lane.
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Another road photo. Our driver of the four wheel drive kept down shifting. We were in low gear most of the time. The speedometer got up to 20 km/ mile but that was when we were “rolling” along. He was constantly looking ahead for oncoming vehicles because two could barely pass–especially when both cars wanted to be on the same ruts!
I tried hard to get photos that showed how bad the road was on our 6-hour drive to the town of Along. We saw lots of big road machinery but none was working. Mud and rock slides often filled half of the road– usually at curves of course.
We saw a gaur (, Bos gaurus), also called Indian bison, called by our driver “White Socks”. Special to see one of these agile animals in the forest–actually we have been driving through jungle. They are fast so the head will be in the next photo. Or drivers were excited to sight one.
The head of the gaur.
Another longer bridge. A few of our group of 5 ventured out halfway with our guides. The only reason they stopped there was that the mat floor was broken up. It was scary enough for me to just watch.
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We have visited several weavers in their homes. While walking in a village our guide kept a look out for weavers and then we “stopped in”.
A weaver in her home. I bought two cloths that she designed completely. I was thrilled so see one could be inventive.
We climbed various ladders to get up to the living quarters in the homes. We were climbing up to visit a young girl who had just finished a weaving.
I found the photo just before she cut her skirt off the loom. Note her scissors ready to cut. She. Outdoor hardly wait to see the results.
Here the young girl shows us her skirt she just wove.
Another weaver. A little girl. Her mother and several women were watching us as we watched the daughter do a sort of complicated weave.
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We were leaving a market and saw this elephant working carrying wood for fires. Our guide ran after him and asked the driver to come back for a photo op. It was huge and calm. Took some bananas we fed it. The tongue was really soft. The skin was really wrinkly and leathery looking. Just like in a circus. So nice to see one in a real life situation.
Ingrid did the feeding.
Market days were interesting to see the people, produce, and what was for sale.
Along a village street–they are right along the side of the road. There was a festival honoring cars trucks and metal as far as I understood. Cars and trucks put these decorations on their hoods for the day.
I think we had lunch here. There were several establishments on the side of the road. Done it was a festival day they count make us lunch. We had noodles potato chips and a delicious pineapple from a market where we stopped that morning.
Here the men were hanging around in back of the women who were in front doing the selling.
These people were selling live chickens.
Day 4 India. I walked over on back on this bridge the day before my 77th birthday. I made it with the guides holding my arm and saving my life so I could celebrate birthday today.
The bridge flooring where they felt safe enough.
Village on other side of scary bridge.
Inside a home in the village. Man is a basket maker. Thought people would like to see i side a thatch roof house. The living area is on stilts above ground. Cooler there maybe. Animals below. Chickens and pigs and cows we saw.
Here are our shadows on the roof overlooking the village and the river we crossed on the bridge. When I was crossing g back on the bridge holding tightly to my guide there were 2 motorcycles and 10 people patiently waiting for me to get across! If they hadn’t seen my plight they would have begun to cross with me way out over the river. They waited because they would have swung the bridge greatly. And I would have died of fright or drowning.
Day 3 Kolkata (Calcutta) a textile workshop. In one area women were gathered together stitching threads for making Shibori fabric like this. It’s loosely related to tie dyeing. Stitches are made and the threads gathered up tight before the fabric is dyed. Where the stitching is the dye cannot penetrate. In other words the dye is resisted by the tightly squeezed cloth.
Another shibori design from the sample swatches.
Here are the women stitching.
What a mess it looked like but the design was carefully stitched out. We didn’t see who pulled up the stitches. I’ll bet the same women did. However it might take people with strong hands to do that job.
Some of the women showing us their work.
A close up to show the stitches.
** Editors note **
After two days of Peggy missing in action in India (no WiFi) I got this desperate email sent I think on her guide’s cell phone:
“No wifi for several nights. Hard to keep track of each day’s stuff. Got wifi from guide now in Along. Hot humid. Stand up toilet seat. Elephant working with driver and load. Roads worse than ever seen. Dry but ruts and rocks and mud slides. Four wheel drive in lowest gear for six hour drive. Running now with sweat. Off to see a market. In boonies.”
Now just tonight I’ve received 27 photos on Instagram one of them titled “Day 6”. I’ll try to unjumble them and will post a few shortly.
AND it’s Peggy’s birthday tomorrow!
Calcutta. Hand tying fringe at the workshop.
Every knot exactly right.
Embroidery area at the workshop.
Interesting that this is man’s work. Note their postures.
Another area clamped wooden pieces on folded cloth to resist the dye for interesting patterns.
Clamp resist dyed fabric.
A beautiful Marin sunrise saw me off to Calcutta (spelled with a K).
It’s obvious we are on a plane to India. I was thrilled to see all the beautiful saris on the plane. Such gorgeous textiles to take in and enjoy.
If it’s not a sari it can be a beautiful textile. So interesting to see how the women wear their fabrics.
More airport dress.
More airport dress. I know I’m in India.
Even on the streets and in hot weather. I think the sari must be comfortable.
Even the men appreciate nice textiles. We just met him before setting out for the airport for our next stop. I wonder if he is our guide.
I’m off on my next trip to a special part of India called Arunachal Pradesh and then on to Bhutan. I’ll try to send daily posts and pictures as I’ve done on other trips. However, the WiFi may be not as dependable. You can become a subscriber to my blog and receive the posts in your email if you like. See how to do that on my home page in the upper right corner of the page. Of course this is a textile trip and I think we’ll have fantastic scenery. There will be many winding roads and mountains. I hope the monsoon rains don’t change our plans. The map shows the road trip path of our itinerary. There is a gap in it because the map didn’t show any roads at that point.
Here is a live Google Map link so you can follow me along on my trip: MAP of MY India & Bhutan Trip
When Pat Keily sent me his question, I gave him my thoughts but non suited his problem with floating shafts with multiple tie-ups. Here is what he wrote for this guest post to explain the problem and his happy solution. Thanks for contributing this tip, Pat!
“I have a 67-year-old LeClerc Nilus 36-inch, 10 treadle loom that has given me fits. The problem has been floating frames on multiple tie-ups. For some reason still unbeknownst to me, depressing a treadle would cause one or more frames to “float” an inch or so off the bottom. I was finally able to determine the cause and solution by googling the right key words. The problem is caused by the weight of the treadles (but why depressing a treadle would cause this is beyond me) lifting the jack. The solution is to install springs that keep the treadles from weighing down the frames. After searching for the right size springs and seeing they would cost over $50, my wife came up with a much better idea. We went to the Dollar Store and bought clasp-free hair bands for 10 cents each (pack of ten for a dollar). I bought 20 eye screws, installed ten in the end of the treadles and ten on a hardwood strip that I attached to the loom (Pat told me that he opened the “eyes” with two pairs of pliers). I slipped the hair band (fancy rubber bands) onto the eye screws and my floating frames floated right out of my life!”
In Japan, one always gives a gift when visiting someone. When we visited an artisan or maker, we always gave our more “important” gifts.
Our guide took us to visit Kubota-san in Kyoto, a stencil dyer. We had a lovely time visiting after seeing his studio where they were printing a kimono-length piece of cloth. When I gave him a silk handkerchief I dyed after folding it an interesting way and then doing arashi-shibori (pole dyeing) in my indigo vat. He was pleased and immediately put it into his pocket! I had been worried that it wasn’t useful, just a unique piece of silk!
This is the way Japanese often wrap things. I realized I had a little collection and displayed them in the window of our gift shop. I use them often when carrying things. The big one is really useful for carrying things to a pot luck. I also am using it now while carrying my work back and forth from the studio. I think I bought them when I just liked the cloth. Often the cloth is two-faced—that is, woven with two different colors or patterns on a single piece of cloth. Most are crepe—they stretch so nicely to tie.
They are easy to tie this way. You just set the object diagonally on the cloth and tie the opposite corners in a knot. The knotted ends form the handle for carrying. I have seen several books with different ways to wrap things with a furoshiki—even a wine bottle!
My first one is the big one given to me when we visited a stencil dyer long ago—in 1967. I’ve never found that dyer on all the trips I’ve made after that.
At a flea market I found the tiny ones—couldn’t bargain the seller down! One we bought at a sale in a department store. I’d seen one for a hundred dollars in a special natural dye shop. At the sale I got it for a “song” after pawing my way through a pile of furoshikis along with other women looking for bargains.
Many years ago I took a class in damask and learned about satins and I focused on warp face and weft face and color. I don’t know why I thought I needed 11 yards, but I made the warp that long. I would say it was about 15” wide. The warp was blue and grey out of 20/2 pearl cotton. The threading was 2 blocks and then I played with how colors mixed and looked next to each other. I still have a large stash of a lot of colors and shades of sewing thread which I used for wefts.
Since I was playing, sometimes the “right side” was on top and sometimes the “wrong side”. Of course there was no repeat!
When I showed it to my students one day Antione Alexander said he could make a coat out of it. The next week he had a muslin and the next week the completed coat! WOW! Later I had a seamstress put in interfacing and a lining. I wore it to the symphony a few weeks ago and have gotten nice compliments every time I wear it. I really feel I lucked out! I think he did a great job.
After each trip I seem to need to patch worn places and last time, a 3-corner tear. (I learned the name for that kind of tear in 4-H as a kid). When we took this photo, I realized that I’d sewn one of the pockets shut!! Another job to do before the next trip. Here is the current version after the trip to Japan in May. It felt so good when I put it on for the photos–nice and clean. At the end of a trip it is limp from sweat and constant wearing every day! I love it because of the pockets: for my camera, purse, train tickets, hotel key pad and pen. This is a Safekeeper vest made by Marion Gartler in Seattle. She brought them to Berkeley for a trunk show a few years ago.