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Textile Museum in Thimphu - Preserving and promoting a national heritage
Textile museum
Textile Museum in Thimphu
Not long after the opening of the National Textile Museum on June 12, 2001 Bhutanese textiles have reached new heights as one of the most visible traditional crafts and as a distinctly Bhutanese art form.
The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes - warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibres and the royal collection.

Conceived and patronized by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the basic infrastructure of the museum was constructed at a cost of US$ 165,000 with Danish assistance. Private donors and the government also contributed. The Peabody Essex museum in the United States provided technical support to set up the museum. It is managed by the national commission for cultural affairs.

It charges a visiting fee of Nu. 10 per person for local people, Nu. 25 for those from the SAARC region and Nu. 150 for westerners. The museum earns an average of Nu. 7-8000 in a month from visiting fees. Throughout this week the museum received a steady flow of visitors most of whom were interested in the royal collection.


Highlight of the exhibition is the royal collection
Textile museum
Rare items on display:

The crowns of Bhutan's Kings, namzas and other accessories used by members of the royal family.
The first version of the Raven crown.

The the royal collection includes the first version of the raven crown, a brocade uzham (crown) worn by the first king, another uzham worn by the second king, and a princess crown worn by the sister of the first king, Ashi Wangmo. Namzas (dresses) and other accessories worn by the kings of the Wangchuck dynasty and other members of the royal family are also on display. The royal collection was lent to the museum by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck, and some private individuals.

The exhibition and its display setting was conceived entirely by the museum staff none of whom have undergone any formal training.The museum through the exhibition hoped to generate interest among the weaving community to reintroduce traditional patterns and help foster understanding of Bhutan's unique achievements in the textile arts.
Textile museum Textile museum
The goal of the museum is to slowly become a center for textile studies that will carry out Document, research and studies on textiles.
Textile museum

It has already started doing this on a small scale.

The museum is planning numerous activities to kindle public interest and generate revenue for itself.


The national design competition
The national design competition will have a new feature - the best textiles during the competition will be selected through public polling and not by a panel of judges. All textiles will be assigned numbers and visitors will cast their votes "for the best piece" on the numbers and not on the creators. A new category in the competition this year, besides the pesar, traditional and innovative designs, will be appliqué and embroidery.

The museum is also planning to hold a textile festival during the design competition.


Auction of modern contemporary

An auction of modern contemporary textiles is "under consideration". The museum will buy the best pieces of textiles from all interested weavers and sellers around the country. The "base price" for all pieces during the auction will be the original price quoted by the weavers. The bid amount exceeding the base price will go to the textile museum. This is essentially to encourage weavers to come up with better quality textiles having more intricate and appealing designs. The museum will soon employ two permanent weavers - one for pangtha and another for thuetha - so that visitors can see how the textiles are actually woven.

Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck
Her Majesty is also patron to the National Textile Museum inaugurated in 2001. Her personal interest in national textiles has been instrumental in boosting Bhutan's textile art spurring both national and international interests. This has not only provided due recognition to the nations textiles but has also created a platform for weavers of the kingdom. The Museum is now in possession of an invaluable collection of antique textile artefacts through friends and well wishers. Conservation and Protection of national treasure textile artefacts, such as the pearl robe from Tsamdrak goenpa, personal bedding of His Holiness Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji and the Raven crown are some of the Museums remarkable feats.
This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper
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