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The Future Fabrics: weaving textiles into technology challenge team works towards HERITAGE PRESERVATION of textile traditions across Bhutan, starting from Thimphu.

Traditional handlooms, patterns and motifs are slowly becoming forgotten, while still holding an enourmous body of knowledge and intagible heritage practices, from knowledge transmission rituals to weaving songs.


GAWA (happiness, in Dzongkha) tackled the Fab23 Challenge by considering both existing weavers and the new generation. For the weavers, we addressed the pain point of long weaving sessions with a backstrap loom attachment that tightens and releases tension, alleviating back pain, and giving a comfortable weaving experience which would motivate the older, expert weavers to continue their work and preserve the tradition. Additionally, we are encouraging the younger generation to weave through the “Happy Loom Kit”. Furthermore, by digitally archiving patterns and the expertise of skilled weavers, we ensure the preservation of Bhutanese Textile culture for future generations.

3D video of the loom

Discover the 4-set GAWA experience

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Our efforts

The GAWA project, aimed to leverage technology to create dialogue around the preservation of Bhutanese culture, particularly focusing on Bhutanese Textile, and finding new ways to engage both the existing weavers and the new generation. The project was split into two parts: one for the existing weavers and another for the new generation.

For the existing weavers, a significant pain point during their weaving process was identified - the strain caused by long weaving sessions on the backstrap loom. To address this issue, the project team developed an innovative solution in the form of an attachment for the backstrap loom. This attachment was designed to tighten and release the tension, alleviating the physical burden on the weavers and reducing back pain problems. By providing a more comfortable weaving experience, the goal was to encourage the existing weavers to continue practicing their craft for an extended period, thereby helping to keep the Bhutanese textile tradition alive.

In addition to supporting existing weavers, the project also sought to engage the new generation and introduce them to the art of weaving. To achieve this, the team created the "Happy loom kit" - a weaving kit designed specifically for children. By encouraging kids to weave at an early age, the project aimed to instill an appreciation for Bhutanese textile culture and ensure its continuity by passing down the tradition to the next generation.

Furthermore, the GAWA project recognized the importance of preserving the patterns and expertise of the expert weavers for the benefit of future generations. To achieve this, the team utilized digitalization techniques to archive the patterns and weaving experiences of the skilled weavers. By creating a digital repository, this valuable knowledge could be safeguarded and shared with the new generation, ensuring the continued preservation and evolution of Bhutanese textile craftsmanship.

The name "GAWA" holds significance, as it translates to "happiness" in Dzongkha, the official language of Bhutan. This title reflects the project's core mission - to promote happiness and well-being by preserving cultural heritage and fostering creativity and engagement within the Bhutanese community.

Overall, the GAWA project succeeded in leveraging technology to create a meaningful dialogue around the preservation of Bhutanese culture, particularly in the context of textile weaving. By addressing the physical challenges faced by existing weavers, encouraging the involvement of the new generation, and digitally archiving the expertise of skilled weavers, the project played a crucial role in ensuring the enduring legacy of Bhutanese textile tradition.

Last update: July 23, 2023