Bamboo Container (Pyang)

Country: Nepal
Photo courtesy of Char Sundar

Pyang, which means bamboo container in Newari language, is made from bamboo shoots harvested between mid-December to mid-February when they are raw.  This product is mainly made in Pyang Gaun of Lalitpur district which gets name from the product itself. The art of making pyang, however, is dying as the production process is very troublesome and time consuming; the demand is also falling. At present, only two of around 120 households in the village are producing pyang—and only occasionally. Locals inherited the art of preparing pyang products from their parents.

Photo courtesy of Char Sundar

Pyang was mostly used in the Licchavi period for measurement purpose. These containers come in different sizes like mana (0.58 litre) and pathi (4.5 litres) which are mostly used to measure food grains.

Bamboo shoots, the main ingredient of pyang, are cut before they harden. Local farmers bring bamboo shoots from forests in nearby Makawanpur district. The shoot is then cut into half, dried and heated using firewood. It is then flattened and stitched into desired shape and size using iron needle. Pyang is mainly used to store food grains, keep clothes and important papers and document as well as medicines and spices as insects, mites and rats cannot damage it. Locals used to export pyang to Japan in the past. But it was discontinued after importer suggested that the design be modified, which the locals failed to do.

It is very difficult to find pyang in household use. Some houses in core Newari settlement, however, are still using pyang. Some designs can be seen at Pyang Conservation and Promotion Office in Pyang Gaun, which opens only on Saturdays. Local community leaders believe this dying art can be revived by training local artisans to make new designs as per the taste and interest of buyers.