Universally as familiar in Nepal as the rari, the soft woven wool pakhi is indispensable in the colder regions. The Pakhi, softer than the rari in its construction, is woven in the northern part of Nepal. It is used as an outer covering as well as the base material for clothing items like the ghala, namja, panki, and kiri. The pakhi is worn and woven mainly in the Himalayan foot-hills. Its warmth protects the body from the biting cold and winds of the region. It is woven using primitive techniques. Though softer than the rari it does not compare with the woollen suiting imported from abroad, resulting in a decline in its usage.
PROCESS & TECHNIQUE
The wool is obtained from the mature ram (luk); its shearing is enough for four meters of pakhi, in a width of nine inches. The wool is sheared with a sharp knife (chupi). It is first washed in cold water and then dried in the sun. Before weaving, the wool is often dyed either black or red. It is broken into soft fur and the yarn is hand spun. Forty to fifty parallel yarn strands are stretched across two wooden poles on the loom (tan) at one time. Thick yarn strands are then stretched in a net-like form at right angles to the thin yarn strands.
When the weaving of the pakhi is completed, it is dipped into a copper basin containing lukewarm water and vigorously stamped on. It is then dried in the sun. Various pieces of the pakhi are then sewn – it is now ready for use. On an average, about 20m of pakhi can be woven in a week.