Tharu sikki / thatch grass / mujella

Country: Nepal
Photo Dipesh Shrestha

Tharu sikki are products made from moonj, a fibre plant of the Sachharaum family. Moonj is also known as “thatched grass” or “golden grass” as it is golden in colour. This grass can be found in abundance in wild. The long, smooth and golden coloured fibre plant grows as high as 10 feet. Stalk of this plant is cut from the base and the flowering part is cut and discarded. It is then used to weave different products.

Photo courtesy of Nepal Knotcraft

Though it is unknown how long tharu sikki products have been in use, it is assumed that Tharu and Muslim women, especially from Tarai, have been using these products after they settled in the southern plains of the country.  Earlier, these women used to make only baskets which they carry on their head to ferry goods from one place to another. Commercial production of tharu sikki products began after Shyam Badan Shrestha, owner of Nepal Knotcraft Center (NKC), introduced coiled technique for weaving products like tea coaster, hot mat, wall hanging, bread basket, jewelry box and vase, among others, in late 1980s.

Needle, water vessel and moonj stalks are needed to make these products. But it requires great degree of patience and dedication. Commercial production of tharu sikki products is done in Janakpur, Banke, Bardiya and Dang. These products are mainly consumed in domestic market especially by restaurants, hotels and homes. Tharu sikki products are also exported countries like the United States, Japan and the UK.

The art, however, is dying fast. Local women have stopped making these products as they do not fetch good return and also the production process is time consuming. Also, young Tharu girls are reluctant to learn the skill. There is no data of people involved in production of tharu sikki products.

These products are available in a showroom in Kupandol as well as Banke, Bardiya, Janakpur and Dang.