The Fabric of Life: Bhutan’s Textile Treasures, Traditions, and Future.


Bhutan, the last free Buddhist Kingdom, is tensely nestled between India and China at the top of the Himalayan world. Mountainous, mysterious and deeply spiritual, Bhutan desires to thoughtfully modernize while being constantly mindful of preserving and protecting its rich cultural heritage and traditions.

Bhutan’s textile treasures and fabric weaving traditions are at the heart of this national cultural heritage and identity. Preserving these treasures and traditions, while advancing textile design and manufacturing as a potent economic development opportunity (especially for rural women) is the driving purpose and priority for the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan. As a priority for the government and Royal Family of Bhutan, the Royal Textile Academy intends to build a new cultural facility in the center of Thimphu as both a tourist destination, community cultural center, and museum support facility for the preservation and development of the textile traditions of Bhutan.

Creating this new home for the Royal Textile Academy will provide a critical contemporary facility for the collecting, conservation, study, and interpretation of Bhutan’s textile history and also establish a home base in a national network for the training and development for hundred’s of rural women weavers. In addition, such a facility would provide a unique and flexible community cultural center to host performances, celebrations, symposia and special events if all sorts.

The Friends of the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan (FRTAB) is an organization wholly dedicated to supporting this cultural heritage, textile preservation, and economic development effort. As a not-for-profit entity, the FRTAB will raise funds to match the resources provided by the Bhutanese themselves, as well as, assist the Bhutanese in forming the international networks and partnerships critical for providing the technical assistance and professional resources necessary for the project’s success. As an independent entity, the FRTAB will work closely with the Royal Textile Academy to strategically develop this cultural preservation project, maximizing its impact, efficiency, and effectiveness and ensuring that it meets all standards for such museological and economic development enterprises.

The Bhutanese are modernizing with thoughtful foresight, preserving what is the best of their cultural past as they move into a rapidly emerging economic future. Their diverse and rich textile traditions represent a firm foundation on which to build their contemporary national identity and image.

A gift to the FRTAB supports the preservation and advancement of Bhutan’s textile traditions, but also endorses this thoughtful and model approach to modernization in this culturally frenetic world.