The Royal Textile Museum in Thimphu
Weaving is an integral component of the culture and tradition of Bhutan. With the aim to preserve and promote this living art, the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Gyalyum (Queen Mother) Sangay Choden Wangchuck as a non-government, non-profit organization.
The RTA was registered as a Civil Society Organization in line with the Civil Society Organization Act of Bhutan 2007 on June 13, 2011.
Textile Musuem in Thimphu
The Bhutan Textile Museum or the National Textile Museum is a national textiles museum in Thimphu, Bhutan, located near the National Library of Bhutan. It is operated by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs. Since its establishment in 2001, the museum has generated national and international attention and has garnered a substantial collection of antique textile artifacts, exclusive to Bhutan.
The objective of setting up the museum is to promote Bhutan’s achievements in the field of textile arts and to sustain and promote the interest of the weavers to continue the traditional textile patterns. The museum also envisions becoming the center for textile studies and research. The purpose is also to promote the history and culture of Bhutan
History of Textile Musuem
The significance of Bhutan’s textiles is attributed to many factors such as its intricate patterns in textile art (unique in the world), skills and methods adopted in their creation, noteworthy role in religious, official, and social events represented by “glyphs and symbols of ancient knowledge” and their deep sacred connotation.
The Bhutan Textile Museum was first conceived by Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck. It was established in 2001 and inaugurated by the Queen. The museum was constructed at a cost of around $165,000 with Danish assistance. The government of Bhutan and private donors also provided assistance to set up the museum. While the Peabody Essex Museum in the United States provided technical support to set up the museum. Wangchuck serves as the patron of the museum and has enhanced national and international interest in the Bhutanese textile industry.
What is Displayed on the Musuem?
The museum is divided into six areas of special focus, including Achievements in textile arts, the role of textiles in religion, textiles from indigenous fibres, The Royal Collection, warp pattern weaves, and weft pattern weaves. The Royal Collection of the museum has an invaluable collection of Bhutanese antique textile artefacts of Bhutan, including crowns of Bhutan’s kings, Namzas (dresses) and other accessories are worn by the Royal Family, a pearl robe from Tsamdrak Goenpa and the bedding of Shabdrung Jigme Dorji.
Some of the unique collections donated by the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, and some private individuals on display in the museum are the first version of the Raven crown, brocade uzhams(crowns) worn by the first king, and the second king, and a princess crown worn by the sister of the first king, Ashi Wangmo.
The ground floor of the Textile Museum has displays demonstrating the skills of spinning, colouring fibres, preparing a loom, and manipulating two sets of yarns. Decorative fabrics and textile arts and crafts are categorically displayed in the galleries situated on the first floor of the Textile Museum. There are displays showing the traditional regional garments produced by women and men in Bhutan, and those garments used for special religious occasions
The visitor can enter the exhibition from morning (AM to 5 Pm during office hours. The tourist needs to pay Nu.300 per person.