Tibetan refugee women in Nepal: Making a living, surviving their art and culture by weaving carpets

    Nepal: After the Chinese invasion and complete occupation of Tibet in the year 1959, thousands of Tibetans fled Tibet and followed H. H. the Dalai Lama and sought asylum in India, Nepal and Bhutan. According to United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Nepal is home to 38,490 refugees while Tibetan is among of the large majority of Nepal’s refugee population.

    In Nepal, there are four relief camps established to rehabilitate refuges in Nepal.  The Dhorpatan (Banglung Distracts) in west, Chialsa, in the East ( Solu Distracts) Tashi Palkhel In Pakhora and Jawalakhel Tibetan Camp in Lalitpur.

    Among the four other camps, Jawalakhel Handicraft Center also known, as Tibetan Refugee Camp is the pioneer of Tibetan Carpet Industry in Nepal.  In Jawalakhel Handicraft Center more than 1000 Tibetans are settled and  approximately 500 Tibetans are engaged in different process of carpet production like Wool sorting, Hand Brushing & Spinning of yarn, Dyeing, Ball Winding, Weaving, Trimming & Finishing etc.

    In Nepal the rug business is one of the largest industries in the country however Tibetan hand knotted technique is a very accent method of the art of weaving because the knotting method used in Tibetan rug is different from that used in other rugs.

    It takes about two to three months to make one of the carpets, which are approximately eight feet long. However decorated with traditional designs, these handmade carpets are made of woolen which they sell for Rs.5, 000 to upwards of Rs.30, 000 Nepali Rupees.


    A small rehabilitation center for Tibetan refugees build by the government of Nepal


    A view of the Hall where women do weaving and share their old stories


    A View of Tibetan rugs showroom where products are displayed to sell


    A woman Tibetan refugee is busy in yarning woven from threat in front of her shop


    The entire process of yarning and weaving the carpets around the premises of the Jalwakhel Building


    The graph room where designs are set to be drawn on carpets


     The Tibetan refugees sing traditional song while weaving to recall their country


    The Tibetan carpet evokes traditional themes that comprise blessings, power, good fortunes and prosperity

     Tibetan refugees are surviving their art and culture by weaving carpets

    Jawad Yousafzai
    Photojournalist, media and communications professional

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