‘TRIMA – Discontinuous Weft Patterns’ Exhibition at RTA

‘Trima’ literally means ‘coiling the warp,’ and is a highly-sophisticated technique where weft yarns are entwined around the warp yarns, producing motifs that are raised above the ground cloth and are often mistaken for embroidery. These sophisticated designs and motifs are created by highly skilled weavers and can easily take up-to a year to finish a kira. RTA’s new exhibition is an ode to this traditional textile design.

by Chimi Wangmo, Photos by Gyeltshen Tobden

Something unique to Bhutan, Trima has drawn the attention of textile enthusiasts and art connoisseurs across the world. The Royal Textile Academy held an exhibition titled ‘Trima: Discontinuous Weft Pattern’ on the 31st August 2017. The exhibition was graciously inaugurated by Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck.

As one enters the exhibition centre on the second floor of the RTA building, one can get a complete glimpse of trima motifs from its origin during the time of Chinese Princess Wenchung to present day use in Pesar Kiras. On your right in a corner, an audio visual tape of the trima motif documentation is played. On the wall is a poster of the various trima patterns such as Pigeon’s eye (parewa mik), monkey’s nail (Praitsimba), etc. You can also see a back-strap loom on which is a half-woven kira giving you an insight into the details of the quaint technique of weaving supplementary weft-patterns called Sapma (continous weft pattern) and trima (discontinuous weft pattern).


The exhibition has been designed under four different themes Kushung, Khushuthara, Ngoshom and Pesar. Two figures replicating people from the olden days wearing kushung (a distinctive indigenous tunic embellished with supplementary-weft patterning of delicate ‘kushu’ motis) can be spotted. It’s believed that trima motifs have been in existence on Kushungs and bags before Kushuthara. 

The transition of simple trima motifs from Khushung to plain thara kiras giving birth to Ngosham (one of the traditional variations of Khushuthara identified with a blue warp ground) to Khushuthara ( identified with a white background lavishly embellished with characteristic trima motifs) can be found on the kiras on display on the next walls.

With the possibility of the import and thus accessibility of different colored yarns over the years, Bhutanese weavers started inventing, interpreting and experimenting with designs on bright warp background colours resulting in excellent creative contemporary weaving. You can see it on the many award-winning kira pieces adorning the last wall under the Pesar (literally meaning ‘new design’) theme.

“The main objective of the exhibition is to preserve and promote the unique and beautiful art of weaving in general and to highlight and celebrate the technique of weaving discontinuous weft patterns in particular. The exhibition also includes some award-winning pieces from the annual National Design Competitions organized by the Textile Museum and the RTA,” said RTA.

The exhibition will be open for the public for the next nine months at RTA.

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