I thought I was sitting down to share photos with you from a different travel destination; however, either my soul or my heart keeps returning to Bhutan. So before we leave, why don't we visit a farmer's market and maybe a fabric handicraft shop?
Farmer's markets have a way of engaging all of one's senses while also providing an inside glimpse into the local culture. This is why I prefer the local markets where local producers and artisans bring their wares for sale, and where locals actually shop. Centenary Farmers Market, in Thimphu, open on weekends, happens to be just such a market.
The market is large, clean and organized, offering local arts and handicrafts as well as produce. If in the area the market is an interesting, worthwhile and fun stop. You will find herbs, veggies, and cheese here not to be found in U.S. markets. Their diet is largely vegetarian.
Bhutanese red rice is the primary food staple of the people of Bhutan. The color variations of the rice in the markets was a pleasure, and it was also good eats.
Interested in what we bought? Incense for my son. At home now, I love it when he lights a stick and ignites this sensory memory of Bhutan for me. On the other hand, my husband, not so much.
To look into the weavings of Bhutan we head to Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre toward the south of Thimphu. Producing hand-woven textiles, they have weavers on site demonstrating their skills, alongside their store which offers a gorgeous collection of garments and accessories for sale. The art of weaving is an essential aspect of the country's cultural heritage and is considered not only one of its highest art forms but also a form of spiritual expression . Since the the art of weaving is strongly associated with religion in Bhutan, master weavers earn high respect.
The people of the Kingdom of Bhutan, (as pictured above using the simple back strap loom) have crafted one of the most sophisticated weaving cultures in history, impressive given the fact that they were essentially isolated from the outside world. I believe this art comes from their hearts, which I love, and it is clearly a Bhutanese treasure. The above cloths are gorgeous, but less time consuming and less expensive than their embroidered works as seen on the left.
Look at the colors and intricacy in her embroidered fabric. My best recollection is this final piece will take 10 to 12 hours of work a day for the same number of months to complete and then will sell for $1200 and above. I admired the fabrics, but the price I was willing to spend didn't match the price of the items I loved most, but I treasure the memories.
Bhutanese textiles are rich in texture and strong in myriad colors with diverse patterns. A unique art form, it incorporates intricate dyeing and weaving processes which have been passed down over centuries. The weavers, largely female, are true artisans. These are such beautiful, sophisticated and elegant textiles. Simply stunning.
I refuse to say this is goodbye to Bhutan, for I am sure I will find just a few more photos before moving on. Stay tuned though, I have some really fun stuff coming up soon!