The striped woolen fabric (Tibetan:“Pangden”) was traditionally hand woven and worn as an apron by married women in Tibet. Pangden are produced from hand spun yak and sheep wool which is collected twice a year from the ground of expansive grazing regions in the high Himalayas, hand spun, dyed with 100% natural dyes from locally collected plants, and then woven into an apron on a small wooden loom. The looms are designed for mobility so women can weave despite their nomadic lifestyle. The small loom is not wide enough to weave a full apron, so thin panels are stitched together with wool yarn after weaving. Typically, each apron is composed of 4 panels, however, occasionally additional panels are added to create blankets, cloaks, or bedding.
The stripes of colors distinguish the region where the apron was woven and the story of one woman’s journey; often a story of relocation to a new village after marriage, thus weaving the colors of her family’s village with those of her new home.
The tradition of wearing and weaving these wool aprons has essentially vanished. Those who still wear Pangden have started buying cheaper, synthetic machine woven versions which are mass produced and readily available. Widely speaking, it’s only older women both inside and outside of Tibet who still wear hand woven, wool Pangden. Incredibly, many older Tibetan women can still identify a pangden’s origin based exclusively on its color combinations.
The Pangden in our collection range from 40-150 years old and have traveled by yaks, porters, and buses from the high Himalayas and vast plains of Tibet to our urban workshop in Kathmandu.
The use of this unique traditional textile supports cultural preservation, awareness, and continued utilization of authentic Tibetan craft and clothing.