Artist Profiles

Artist:

Leki Wangmo, Rinzin Wangmo and Sonam Chhoewang and YeshiMo

Region:

South and Central Asia

Country:

Bhutan

Organization:

Leki Textiles & Weaving Studio

Media/General:

Textiles

Medium of Work:

Backstrap traditional woven clothing, home accessories

Year(s) Attended:

Santa Fe: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2018

About:

According to legend, Bhutanese weaving originally started out as an improvised interpretation of Tibetan weaving. In many instances, motifs are connected to the natural world, as well as to spiritual practices and belief systems. Maintaining the highest artistic standards, while at the same time expanding upon centuries of tradition, master textile artist Leki Wangmo, along with her all-female team of artisans, creates gorgeously hewn woven fabrics both as wearable items and for home décor.

 

In Bhutan, the art of weaving is considered a living tradition, passed down from mother to daughter instead of in a classroom or from a book. As young people grow up in increasingly modernized spheres, this artform is in danger of dying out. Schools such as the Royal Textile Academy in Thimphu, therefore, have recently been founded to motivate and inspire interest in this traditional artform.

 

Wangmo and her team make their textiles completely by hand, along every step of the way. Tools remain largely unchanged throughout millennia, incorporating mostly wood, bamboo, and animal hide elements. Both men and women wear traditionally woven garments in Bhutan as everyday clothing, with more intricately designed items reserved for special festivals and events.

Leki Wangmo was born into a large family with longstanding, ancestral ties to weaving and embroidery folk art practices. In Bhutan, weaving is a historically matrilineal activity, and Wangmo learned her craft originally from her grandmother and from her mother. Respect for the artistic process and reverence its deep cultural significance is evidenced in each and every resoundingly beautiful, hand-crafted item produced by Wangmo and her team.