Bhutan Textile Kira Kushutara
early 20 century
background Butanese hand-spun cotton yarn
patterns hand-spun wild silk yarn
The kira is the traditional garment of Bhutanese women,
and is worn wrapped around the body and pinned on
each shoulder with a koma (brooch).
A wide woven belt (kera) secures the kira at the waist.
There are several different varieties of kira,
the kushuthara type being the most highly regarded
as it was traditionally worn only by royalty and
on special occasions.
The kushuthara kira was lavishly decorated with
brocade-work, finely executed on a white background,
with a high proportion of silk thread.
Historically, the Bhutanese people were extremely strict
about what type of garment could by worn by whom.
The length of a garment, its design and patterning,
the colour and type of fibre and the accessories worn
with it,all denoted the social and economic status of
Although dress codes in present day Bhutan are
no longer quite so strict, traditional dress is still worn
by both men and women in public and it is still possible
to tell the class and occupation of the wearer.
As the old, strict ways of dress broke down at the turn
of the century, the kushuthara style of dress became
popular and was adopted and copied by ordinary women,
although very often in a simpler form in order to
save weaving time.
Today, the kushuthara can be worn by women other than
royalty, for instance by girls in dance troupes.
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