About Bhutan

My First Kira

48 years ago, a 10-year-old girl weaves a kira. She keeps it as an heirloom for 44 years. Now 55, she wears her prized kira.

There are certain things in life which each one of us cling to dearly. Such dear things could vary individually based on one’s status, their values or significance in life. They could be a piece of antique heirloom, a gift from one’s beloved or something that is associated with certain times of one’s life.

Like most ordinary people in rural villages, 55-year-old Tshomo of Chetenra village under Shumar Gewog has nothing much to hold on to dearly except a kira which she wove 44 years ago. She was 10 years old then.

“It was my first kira that I learnt to weave under the guidance of my mother, who herself learnt the art of weaving kishuthara when she went to stay with a man she married in Kurtoe,” Tshomo said.

Like her mother, Tshomo said that she picked up the intricate art without much difficulty and claimed that she was one of the few women who knew the art in the area at the time. Both Tshomo and her mother, who is now in her 80s, wove kiras side by side.

“Unlike these days, the choice of yarn in those days was restricted to rough cotton yarns called tukuli. Acrylic yarns were just beginning to hit the border Indian market of Mela Bazaar. Acrylic yarns were then considered more expensive and used only for the intricate patterns and floral designs,” she said, adding that getting cotton yarns was also equally difficult.

According to Tshomo, it took at least 2 days to reach the Indian market only to discover that the stocks had run out in the shops. “Sometimes, we had to spend days in the homes of Indian hosts called shazis until the new consignments arrived. Cotton yarns worth Nu 11 were enough for one gho or kira piece in those days.” “My first kira, along with the one woven by my mother, thus became our prized possession and it remained unstitched for the last 44 years,” she said. It was only this year that both the mother and the daughter decided to stitch their prized cloths and wear them.

Tshomo managed to stitch both the kiras in 1 night. “The next day was nothing special but the joy and the pleasure of putting on my prized first kira was something which gave me joy, excitement and a sense of accomplishment in my life,” she said. Since then, she has not been able to get over the desire and continues to wear it often. Part of the reason why she she decided to wear the kira after a long time was to get over the material attachments in the latter part of her life. Tshomo recalls the fond memories of her grandmother’s words of wisdom that the art of weaving would come handy in her life later.

And true to what her grandmother said, weaving is what enables Tshomo to help raise her family. She says that the demand for hand-woven clothes has not only enabled the art to survive but become a thriving business for women like her.


>> Original story by Bhutan Observer

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