A tour of the Gyantse Carpet Factory: The legacy of a traditional handicraft


The entrance of the Gyantse Carpet Factory. [Photo/xzxw.com]

The woolen knitting handicraft of Tibet enjoys a long legacy. Gyantse County in Shigatse City is known as the "Land of Carpets" in Tibet. Gyantse carpets are treasured for their patterns, fibers, as well as their coloring, knitting, and cutting techniques. The carpets' unique patterns with strong ethnic characteristics offer even more artistic value. In 2006, the handicraft was included in the index of national-level intangible cultural heritage of China.

"The Gyantse County government invested 6.5 million yuan (about 0.95 million US dollars) in our factory, creating a new workroom with steel frames, with over 15 thousand square meters," said Lhaphun, the director of the Gyantse Carpet Factory. "We have 60 factory workers, everyone earns up to 3,200 yuan (about 466 US dollars) a month. Our factory uses a performance-based incentive and bonus system, with monthly income up to 4,700 yuan (about 684 US dollars). This is great for employee morale and also increases our production efficiency."


Factory worker Penpa Kyipa is knitting a carpet. [Photo/xzxw.com]

Penpa Kyipa, a worker at the carpet factory, said: "I started learning how to knit carpets when I was 14-years-old. I've done it for more than 40 years. To be honest, there're jobs which pay more and have less work, but I have kept doing it because I love it, and I really want to continue this traditional handicraft."


Lhaphun, the factory director. [Photo/xzxw.com]

In 2019, Lhaphun, the director of the Gyantse Carpet Factory, was recognized as an inheritor of intangible cultural heritage at the Tibet Autonomous Region level. He said the spirit of the artisan needs more young blood. As long as the legacy continues, traditional handicrafts could have a long life.