For Buddhists the Phoenix possesses magical qualities: longevity, resurrection, the solar and alchemical fire. It also symbolizes peace and tranquility. For Soni Gurung, this fire bird has brought her a long and very worthy vocation: preserving the textile heritage and traditions of her village on the border of Nepal and Tibet.
Soni Gurung has been a weaver for more than 23 years, and is a founding member of the Yangma Traditional Weavers Cooperative. The organization was founded to preserve the unique weaving traditions of the Yangma peoples who reside on the border of Tibet and Nepal. The members of the cooperative live in the remote villages of the Olangchung-Gola region and have all mastered the weaving of these beautiful carpets.
But it’s more than just preservation that drives the cooperative. Yangama’s mission is to provide a village women a sustainable living so that they can remain with their families and communiites and not have to go to cities to find work.
Yangma traditional rug techniques and designs date back hundreds of years; they are made from hand-spun, hand-knotted Himalayan sheep’s wool in seven specific designs that replicate antique rugs of the region. The patterns on Soni Gurung’s carpets and blankets are steeped with symbolic meaning. Six motifs are connected to the Buddhist belief system. Soni specializes in weaving snow lions, peacocks, and phoenixes motifs into her carpets and blankets.
Yangma Traditional Weavers Cooperative has attended the International Folk Art Market Santa Fe three times and will be displaying their rugs again at International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico from July 12-14. Formore information visit: www.folkartmarket.org. This story first appeared in in IFAM Stories, to view please visit: http://ifamstories.org/artists/yangma-traditional-weavers-cooperative/.