Norbulingka has been training artisans in traditional crafts since 1995, giving new purpose and employment to many young Tibetans in exile. We interviewed a few, who have been apprenticed since they were very young, to better understand and appreciate the work they have devoted their lives to. Continuing with our series – Interviews with Traditional Craftsmen, we bring the focus to the art, the artists and the creative process. Today, we speak with Pema Yangtso, a tailor who has been working in our tailoring unit since 2006.
When did you start your training and were you always interested in making clothes?
As you know, younger children who come from Tibet to India into exile are admitted in the Tibetan schools and the young adults are provided opportunity to study in the adult learning program here in Dharamsala. I was in the second group and enrolled in the adult vocational program and started my tailoring training in 2004 which lasted for two years. I felt that for a stable future, it was important to acquire either education or learn a skill. So, I decided to learn tailoring and continue to develop my skills as a way to consolidate my future and become self-dependent. I was very happy when I got the opportunity to join the Norbulingka tailoring unit. I would say more than an interest in the art of tailoring, I understood it was best suited for me and my future.
Can you share your journey working as a tailor and how you feel about your work?
It has been learning experience working as a tailor and like to many others, Norbulingka has been very kind to me. If I look back to when I started, I feel a sense of pride that I have been able to work on my skills as a tailor and have managed to provide for my daughters. I have grown to love and respect my work and especially when I see the clothes that we make displayed in our shop and loved by people who come to visit. So, I feel happy am satisfied.
Although I work on the sewing machine to make different products, I like making the handmade buttons and adding on the smaller details to a product.
What plans do you have for the future and what do you wish to accomplish in the years to come?
I do not have big plans as such for my future, if possible, my first priority in life is to return to Tibet, my homeland. If not, I have two daughters who go to the Tibetan school nearby, I hope I am able to provide them a fulfilling life here in exile.