Northern Taplejung carpet units in doldrums

Taplejung, May 23:

The twin prongs of continuing snowfall and agitation in Tibet against China have put the carpet industries of Taplejung district’s northern parts in doldrums.

It’s all because of Taplejung’s Olangchulangola checkpoint is lying closed since a month and half. Business has been hit hard, and so is livelihood. But, things have a way of bouncing back. So what if Tibet is closed? Folks of northern Taplejung are resilient and have turned to Kolkata and Kalimpong of India to get their raw materials.

Traders, who brought in wool to Nepal from Tibet via Olangchulangola checkpoint, have not been able to procure stocks due to the closure of the checkpoint. That put a crimp in the work of producers who used to weave carpets from Tibetan wool which sold so well in the international market.

Pemadiki Sherpa, a local, has not been able to cross the border for the last eight months due to continuing snowfall and the agitation going in Tibet. “How is it possible to rustle up two square meals a day when either it’s the snow or the heated political climate that renders things awry?” she told over phone.

For the denizens of Taplejung’s northern areas who barter their homemade carpets for food grains and clothing, it is an uphill climb this nonce.They used to take their yaks to Tibet and bring back the wool of the Kyanglong (native Tibetan sheep) by the tonne. People from Olangchulangola, Yangma, Ghunsa, Phale, Gyabla, Papung, Tokpegola, Lelep, Yamphudim, Tapethok VDCs depend on barter trade generated by their homemade carpets.

Carpets from Olangchulangola, however, rule the roost so far as quality and durability matter.

Thanks to their original patterns and output, Olangchulangola folk flourish even more during the tourist season. Their carpets bear the images of Nepal’s national bird “Danffey”, snow leopards, red pandas and other Himalayan flora and fauna. Woven to an uncanny lifelike resemblance, Olangchulang carpets woo the tourists so much that they take these back as mementos to show the folks back home, said Pedgi Sherpa of Ghunsa.

The Kanchenjungha Conservation Area has been providing training to residents of northern Taplejung since some time. Bed Kumar Dhakal, project coordinator said that an international class carpet industry of Nepal was suffering due to the continuing blockade of the Olangchulangola checkpoint. He said that they had now turned to procure their raw material from Kolkata and Kalimpong in India. Northern Taplejung’s folk churn out some 5000 world class carpets each year.