Thursday, 17th April 2014

Weaving Together the Traditions of the Lowa Women in Nepal

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Counting-string-before-setting-on-Takma-594x446The Lowa people inhabit the Upper Mustang region of northern Nepal at altitudes between 11,000 and 13,000 feet. Mustang is a windy, arid, high altitude desert. It is surrounded on three sides by Tibet. Until 1992, this area was closed to the outside world and it remains a restricted area. The Lowa people (also known as Lhoba, Lhowa, Lhopa) are one of the Ethnic-Tibetan Nationalities in Nepal and the practice of weaving aprons is an important component of our cultural identity. According to Lowa custom, they are the privileged garments for women and a source of Lowa cultural identity. When a Lowa girl gets married, she may receive hundreds of aprons as a gift from her parents so that she can change her style every day of the year.

Today, sadly, synthetic materials are replacing the original woolen fabrics, which were dyed and woven in traditional ways. In the traditional ways of animal husbandry, the wool was considered purer if the animals fed on uncontaminated, clean grass. The wool was colored in the traditional way by buckwheat straw. The straw was then cooked/boiled to bring out the natural color, which is then used to color the wool. Unfortunately, the younger generations do not learn our traditional weaving methods and in the future, these skills may disappear.

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