Bhutan

Kengkhar’s innovative craftsman


Jun 18, 2020

The remote gewog of Kengkhar in Monggar, known for producing the finest palang, a wooden container used to store ara, locally brewed alcohol, is now the first in the country to produce a wooden thermo flask.

Pema Dorji, 32, a local artisan from Shingchongri Chiwog in Kengkhar, is the innovator who designed and crafted the wooden thermo flask using an insulated bottle from imported thermo flask.

His new product has received praise from his artisan friends, villagers and the public in social media for its innovation, creativity and utility. And orders are flowing in from as far as Thimphu and Paro.

In the past one year, he has sold some 60 flasks. The price of the flask ranges from Nu 1,950 to Nu 5,200, depending on size.

“I have been getting many online orders from people across the country but due to lack of raw materials I am not able to meet the demand,” says Pema Dorji.

Pema Dorji learnt the craft from his late uncle a decade ago and has been an active craftsman producing palangs and now the wooden thermo flasks.

“In the past, we practised the craft at the household level for self-sufficiency. It was also time consuming due to lack of machines and technology,” he says.

Much has changed since then and craftsmen are now integrating new ideas to design innovative products. He also uses the Internet and social media to advertise and market his products. “I don’t travel around selling thermo flasks. I sell my products online through Facebook,” says Pema Dorji. 

However, just as other businesses, the Coronavirus hasn’t spared his handicraft business too. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more and more difficult for him to get raw materials. “I have plans to upscale production but I am not able to because of lack of raw materials,” he says.

 In fact, for a large majority of Kengkhar’s craftsmen who are involved in various craftworks, getting raw materials has become a major challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Kengkhar Gup Pema Chodup, various traditional art and crafts flourished in Kengkhar Gewog following the visit and blessing of Lam Sherub Jungney, who was an accomplished artist himself.

Sonam Tshering

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