Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bhutan : Dappa making becomes popular

September 8: With the onset of dappa or wooden bowl making season, dappa makers in and around Trashiyangtse are busy at work to meet the increasing demand. Dappa makers say, the business has been lucrative over the past few years and they hope for a better season this year.

Dappa making is practiced mostly in Trashiyangtse. It is a profession that has been passed from generations to generations. Some of the farmers take up the job during the off season when they have no work in the field.

Pema Rinchen from Bimkhar village in Trashiyangtse is one of the skilled dappa makers of his village. He has been working as Shazo or wood carver for seven years before he took up dappa making, a skill that he inherited from his family. Though dappa making is profitable, it has its own share of problems. Pema Rinchen says it is difficult to get the raw materials.

In the past dappa makers said they used traditional machines like Mathem, Miring and Kaypang. With the passage of time, traditional machines are being replaced by modern equipments like the electric motors which power the tools to carve and produce wooden bowls. They say this consumes less time and the output is double of what was possible with the old method. However when the power supply is disrupted work comes to a stop since the motor operates on electricity.

Apart from traditional products like dappa, duphor, japhop, gophu, ema tsiku and padappa, dappa makers have also diversified their products. These include plates, cups, soup bowls, wine cups and dinner sets depending on the nature of the demand. These products make their way not only into the houses and restaurants in Bhutan but are also popular with tourists.

With the business becoming lucrative every year, more people are taking up dappa making as a full time profession. 28-years-old Tshering Dorji from Bartsham in Trashigang is one of them. Tshering Dorji underwent a four years training course in Shazo from the Zorig Chusum institute in Trashiyangtse. It has been two years since he started making dappa after completing his training.

He also participated in the Smithsonian Folk life festival at Washington DC in the United States this year.

The local craftsmen collect the raw materials from Wangduephodrang and Trongsa where it is found in plenty.

Today a dappa can cost anywhere between Nu. 500 to several thousand ngultrums depending on the size and quality of the materials. For instance, a dapa made out of Bou and Za can fetch a very high price.


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