This thesis documents the traditional craft of weaving with a particular focus on the production of nampu (snam bu), a woolen fabric made from sheep wool, which is an important and popular textile among Tibetans. Nampu are mainly used for the making of traditional Tibetan costumes, garments and boots. The most famous area for nampu textiles in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is Dranang (Grwa nang) County in Lhoka (Lho kha) Prefecture. I have chosen to focus on the production of nampu in Shora (Zho rwa), one of the villages in Dranang County with a long history of producing and trading high quality nampu. Even nowadays, nampu production is the most important income generating activity in the village and constitutes a significant proportion of the total income.
The thesis begins with an introduction of Shora village, a brief background sketch of the history of making nampu and an account of the historical trade of nampu in the village. Then, I provide detailed descriptions of the different types of nampu and the raw material used in the production. Main focus will be given to an examination of the process of making nampu. I will illustrate how the textiles are traditionally made starting from the shearing of the sheep, spinning of the wool, to the weaving and sewing of clothes. The last part of my thesis will be devoted to a presentation of the Sunshine Nampu Weaving Factory in Dranang before I sum up with some reflections on the most important changes in production, marketing, and trade.
Whereas the craft of nampu production has been relatively well preserved in Shora, the transformation of the society in Tibet and the marketing of nampu has altered the production, consumption, and the meaning of nampu. By documenting the traditions as well as the contemporary changes, I am trying to draw attention to this largely unrecorded tradition and possible ways for the preservation of traditional artistic and technical standards for textiles in Tibet.