Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ancient Textile and White-bellied Heron

-->I am currently photographing some rare and ancient Bhutanese textiles. I have always held the belief that Bhutanese weavers are second to none - in their artistry and technique of weaving. Their choice of color combinations is a visual treat. I have never complained that the Bhutanese textile is too expensive - I have always been sorry that really good stuff is beyond my reach.

Now that I have seen some old pieces that I had never seen before, I am simply awed. The quality and artistry and fineness of work of those weavers in the bygone era were miles and miles ahead of what you see now. I am so awed by the skills and craftsmanship that was prevalent those days - it is simply humbling to hold these masterpieces in your hands. Even with the improved and consistent thickness and finish of the modern thread, the present day master weavers, as good as they are, are simply no match to those weavers of the past.

What amazes me is the complexity of the patterns and motifs woven into those fabrics. Mostly, the textiles are woven of rough spun raw silk. But the finish is so fine – it is as if an artist sat down to draw the motifs and patterns with pencil on paper. And they are soooooooooooooo colorful!

In one of the old pieces that is called Chagtsi Pangkhep, I came across a motif that intrigued me for days. Then, when I re-photographed the piece, it dawned on me that the motif that intrigued me had a striking similarity with Bhutan’s rarest bird – the White-bellied Heron. Take a look at the following photo of the bird and the motif placed side by side. Don’t you think the motif looks so much like the rare bird for which Bhutan is famous?

Please take note of the hunched back, the tall legs and the extremely long neck ending in an equally long beak depicted in the motif. No other bird looks like this one. It is amazing how accurately the bird’s physical attributes have been executed on thread. That is the level of skill that existed in the past.

This brings us to the question: Is it possible that the White-bellied Heron was an inhabitant of Bhutan since many centuries and not a recent discovery when it was first sighted in Sonagasa, Punakha in 1974?

To understand more about the White-bellied Heron, please read my post titled: “BHUTAN: Birding Capital of the World” which can be found at:


  1. Yeshey, Pretty Amazing indeed!

  2. With the bigger head, it looks more like a crane. But I applaud for ur love of this bird. I wish ur comparison is true.