An update from textile event in Lhuentse last year which was held in commemorating the Sixtieth Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
From the land of Bhutan’s renowned textile kishuthara, let me introduce you to the star of textile event, Sonam Yangzom, a nine year old girl.
It is an inevitable fact that Lhuenste is known for Bhutan’s most renowned textile kishuthara but never did our thoughts linger on someone as young as nine years old so well taking up the intricate art of weaving. It was remarkable!
Weeks before the event, PICSA received a call from Pangkhar, a village rarely heard but known for rich textiles. There was something different about the person talking on the other end. Ugyen Tshomo said she called to inquire if her daughter who is a nine years old girl can register for the event. Keeping aside her hesitation regarding the fulfilment of the criteria for registration, she told PICSA that her daughter, ever since she heard of the event in Lhuentse had been insisting her to let her participate in it. PICSA was in favour of such an enthusiastic child and moreover it was nice to hear of someone so young undertaking such task. The confirmation was hence done for her to participate.
A day before the event, there she was, Sonam Yangzom, a class three student of Pangkhar community primary school made it to the event with her mother and her younger sister. At the very first instance, she was able to leave an overwhelming impression through the way she greeted us, Kuzuzangpola ! It seemed like maturity had exceeded her age. On touring her stall, she got onto her loom and started surprising not only PICSA team but she drew the attention of many of the visitors who started murmuring because it was something they hadn’t seen before and when they did they probably didn’t believe their eyes while Sonam with concentration picked up the patterns of kishuthara which she brought to the live exhibition.
Speaking to her, our thoughts were driven away in comparing her with the children of her age especially in urban areas and elsewhere. A nine year for an instance, many of who are entirely depended upon their parents and while it was their age to demand for goodies, it was learned that Sonam Yangzom ran her family back in her village. Yes, she did. Her mother said, as a child only at the age of four, Sonam would get into the loom then and there when she knew her mother wasn’t around. At first, her mother thought it was just a child’s play and didn’t entertain her but at the age of five she was then convinced that her daughter really had the interest and determination to take up weaving and so she started teaching her.
After a year, Sonam took up weaving, her mother was surprised at the rate which she picked up the technique and wove it. When she was six, her mother recalls having sold a piece woven by her daughter at Nu. 10,000 to a tourist who happened to visit the nearby village. Ever since Sonam’s earning has helped them run the family at large.
Sonam is not only the true representation of god gifted talent and has not just proven her abilities as an excellent weaver but she is also a bright student topping her class. When asked what she aspires to become in life she confidently says, she aims to become a doctor but weaving is one thing that is woven into every fibre of her life and will always be there no matter what.
Her mother Ugyen Tshomo told us that her daughter is the second figure besides her whom she can trust to run her family. In her absence, Sonam takes up the job of handling all the household chores starting from milking the cow to taking care of her other three younger siblings. . She even supports her brother who is at Thimphu in Zorig Chusum and it is such an irony because her brother who went off with the words of supporting their family ended up being supported by his younger sister as Sonam sends him cash earned through weaving to her brother.
Having known that she made up to the event to showcase her extraordinary skills we asked her she was satisfied. As expected she further inflicted greater response by saying more than that she was happy to be a part of the event to pay tribute to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo whom she considers as a parent and having known the core objective of the event she said there would have been no better opportunity to pay her respect to the dynamic Monarch.
Sonam Yangzom is an example to all the younger generations as the forces of modernization sweeps away the age old tradition and for this recognition, she was awarded the certificate of appreciation for being the youngest weaver at the event and also to encourage more young girls to take up weaving. Her childhood may be gone astray but in her sparkling eyes, one can definitely see those dreams of wanting to become someone and she constantly looks forward for a platform. PICSA promised her one.