The Weaving convention of Bhutan spans centuries with traditional, classical designs continuing be
woven even today by the Bhutanese. The women are mastermind behind this success. Most of the
women weave the textiles from their homes and each region and each region has own tradition of
producing own specialities. Eastern, Central and North central parts of Bhutan have vibrant peculiar local
weaving traditions. Today this complex culture is viewed as a source of identity and national asset that
gained commands of world`s attention and appreciation. Bhutan government in order to show case the
pure Dragon Kingdom`s textile and in particular to continue weaving culture among the young
Bhutanese has come up with a establishment of centres. Royal Textile Academy in Thimphu established
in the year 2001 and Weaving Centre in Khaling operated by National Women Association of Bhutan
plays an important role in maintaining and thriving of Bhutanese textile industries.
History of National Dress
Before I talk about Bhutanese Textiles, I think one should know about a history or origin of Bhutan`s
national dress. The institutionalization of Bhutanese men`s Gho(garment) is attributed to Shabdrung
Shabdrung seemingly have developed the Gho as a national identity, to discern Bhutan from Tibet.
Therefore, he recast the Tibatan costume for men(chuba). The Bhutanese gho is worn drawn up to the
knees as to adjust the warmer climate of Bhutan, where as Tibetan chuba is worn long due to harsh
Tibetan climate. During Shabdrung`s time, the gho was obligatory only for members of the elite, but
gradually adopted by the male population, and in 1989 since then gho has been national dress for
Dragon men. The Bhutanese for women was also adopted in 1989, but there are no concrete proof of
the development of women dress. However, Kira was believed to have worn already before Shabdrung`s
time. Women wore a tunic-style of costumes made of nettle fibers, cotton or wool.
Bumthang according to textie context in Bhutan is referred to as a region of “Yathra” made of Yak and
Sheep`s wool. Yathra are woven on a horizontal looms, allowing a maximum width of 65 cm, wollen
cloths produced were of mostly three meters length, then cut it into two or three equal parts dyed with
This cloths were initially used as a blanket to protect the extreme cold in highland,
but these days they are transformed into jackets, coats, bags, shawls, seat cushions and car seat covers.
Beside Yathra production, this highland place is also known for “Mathra” obviously made from woollen
cloth, commonly known as “Bumthang Mathra”, this is much finer compared to Yathra as it is used for
kira and gho. Bumthang plays an vital role in Bhutanese textile production, since it proliferated in the
Lhuentse district is also referred to as the valley of the weavers in general, the women in this region are
highly specialised in silk weaving . Kurtoe is famous singularly for the extraordinary fine quality of its silk
The textile that were originally produced in the region unveil a white ground with fine, splendidly coloured and cumbersome patterns, which look like chain-stitch embroidery, but are achieved by inserting
supplementory weft threads. They are known as “Kushuthara” which make the traditional Bhutanese
women kira. Made of pure silk, it is expensive which are worn for dpecial occassions.
To the extreme east in a village called Radhi is famous for the production of Bura, Raw silk. Silk is the
most prestigious fibre in Bhutan and also expensive. The place produces Bura cloths.
Traditional Shoes/ Tsholham
Traditional boots are hand-stitched out of sheep and cow hides, then adorn with brocades or wool and
held in place uneder knee with a narrow bootstrap. Colours highlighting are mainly yellow and red.
The boot colours and decorations are made depending upon the rank of the civil servant. Paro and Thimphu are production dzongkhags.