Dhaka is a staple of Nepal, most commonly used for men’s caps (Nepalese: topi). In the early 1900’s, topi’s were always worn during religious and social ceremonies as well as ceremonies of birth, death, and marriage and only recently was the law removed requiring every man to wear a topi when entering a government building. Traditionally, Dhaka was woven in a mix of black, white, red, and orange and was commonly in a flower pattern to symbolize the national plant.
In a rapidly changing Nepal, the use of handloom Palpali Dhaka is quickly disappearing. Coupled with a declining demand due to still competition from power loom jacquards, almost all of the market Dhaka is now being imported from India, where labor is cheaper and yarn is readily available.
EST WST dhaka is hand woven by women in Western Nepal, where the craft first originated. In fact, the fair wage workshop where our women work was the first major supplier of dhaka to Nepal’s Royal Family.
The Palpali Dhaka used in this product was hand woven at the first Dhaka workshop in Nepal. Still family-run the factory once housed, fed and employed 400 local villagers and their families, however, due to the decrease in demand, outsourced labor, and stiff competition from machine woven Dhaka, this fair wage factory can only support 23 weavers at present.
Through establishing a lasting relationship, we aim to support the preservation of the craft and the growth of sustainable job opportunities and skill development in Western Nepal.