Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).


Copyright © 1998 by the author(s)


High in the Himalayan mountains, two weeks walk from the nearest road, weaving is a necessity, not an option, for the women of the Dolpa region of Nepal. A woman weaves all of her life, and must weave for her family to survive the difficult life at this high altitude. Picture three weavers working outside in the late winter snowfall, seated on the ground within a low-walled enclosure. There can be more light and warmth outside, rather than inside, their stone houses. Weaving also provides a place of community, where men, women, and children gather to card fibers, spin, weave, talk, and play. The women in our picture have their teapots warming over embers beside them. The weaver on the left of the group is doing her share to help finish a blanket for the husband of a woman in their community who died. Weaving is that essential to their lives.

I am going to take a moment to describe the setting, as it provides the context for the weaving the women ofDolpa do. Nepal is a small country, roughly the size of Illinois, landlocked between India and Tibet. It is only about 125 miles across, but it ranges from just above sea level in the south to the highest mountain range in the world in the north, the Himalayas. Nepal's mountains and valleys contain a great diversity of cultures and languages, grounded in its two main religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.