Authentic Products of Nepal
Product authentication is the process of verifying a product’s unique identity, its origin or parentage. In dictionary terms, it’s a process for determining whether a particular product is genuine or real when evaluated by a specific set of standards. Nepal which is diverse in culture and rich in history also has several authentic products that have been in production since hundreds of years ago. Now, here is a list of some of the authentic products of Nepal that are in existence and productions since some centuries ago.
A thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk applique, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. This is not just any normal kind of painting instead people believe Thangka to create positive influences in their surroundings. Its brilliant colors and forms awaken the mind and energize consciousness. Its images stimulate capacities for visualization and nourish the heart. People in this era also say that just the act of looking at a thangka is itself a good deed. By meditating on such objects, one can train and gain an understanding of certain types of awareness that the specific image portrays. Another reason for commissioning a thangka painting may be to bring about good health, prosperity or long life.
Moreover to these benefits, Thangka has a great history and is very important part of Tibetan culture and Nepali arts.
Smoothing hhmm… humming sound coming out of a bowl makes everyone close his/her eyes and concentrate on the sound. The Deeper it touches the more comfort it makes. This is the magical sound of “Singing Bowl” here in Nepal.
Singing Bowls are the ancient brain entrainment methodology for healing and meditation. These bowls have been in use for centuries for healing and meditation purposes. They create a range of sounds to restore the normal vibratory frequencies of diseased and out-of-harmony parts of the body, mind and soul. If you find out a real singing bowls, you can use singing bowls instead of a cup of coffee to help you digest food, to help you sleep and to help you recover from illness. There is a link between bowls and the Ayurvedic approach of music therapy and Ayurvedic medical care.
Khukuri are one of the unique knives with a unique slashing edge. It is a national weapon of Nepal and represents Nepal and Nepalese all around the world. It has a distinct recurve in the blade and is in use as a tool as well as weapon. These Nepalese Khukuri are high quality and handcrafted. So, they make an excellent souvenir, particularly for collectors. But, it can be difficult to transport. So, do know about the size limits of Khukuri that can be easy to transport.
Usually a Khukuri comes with two small pieces of blades inside its cover. The blade is called Karda. The “Karda” is a small utility knife used to perform small tasks that the big kukri blade cannot. The “Chakmak” is the sharpener used to sharpen both the main blade, which is the Khukuri.
The art of making clay pottery is as old as human civilization. This age-old tradition of making clay pottery still exists in our societies and still possesses strong socio-cultural values in our livelihood. Despite of all influences of modernization and development, the potters of Kathmandu Valley still find their livelihood on their potter’s wheels.
Thimi, small Newar settlement in Bhaktapur District of Kathmandu valley is known for their clay art for centuries. Kumale, Prajapati and Awale are some of the Newar castes belong to the pottery profession. In Thimi, mostly Prajapaties are involved in making pottery. The art of making pottery is handed down from generation to generation as their family tradition and profession.
Lokta Paper (Nepali Handmade Paper)
Nepali Handmade Paper Making is 2000 years old technique and one of the ancient traditional crafts from Nepal. People use it in their daily lives for writing valuable legal documents, for making sacred or popular masks, for kites, etc. The monks of Tibet have always used it for their manuscripts and for printing sacred tests. This paper is renowned for its exceptional durability and for its lively and special texture.
The use of Lokta paper nowadays is diverse. People nowadays make things such as Notebooks, Photo Frames, Shopping bags, Gift Boxes, Pencil holders, Photo albums and may other products using Lokta paper. Also, Lokta paper’s durability and resistance to tearing, humidity, insects and mildew have traditionally madelokta paper the preferred choice for the recording of official government and sacred religious texts.
The birth of Mahaguthi Craft with Conscience started with yarn spinning and weaving. Furthermore, Mahaguthi empowers women by providing long term employment under fair, just and sustainable working conditions. In fact, it practices Fair Trade as its core principle that puts people first. Upholding fair trade principles like payment of fair wages, benefits for producers, safe working conditions, and protection of the environment, our work also helps revive Nepalese craft traditions.
What does Kalpa mean?
- It means long life, sustainability and ritual represents Mahaguthi’s vision, mission and business model.
- Kalpa represents Mahaguthi’s persistency in promoting age old tradition of craftsmanship and providing livelihood to people specially women.
- It represents Mahaguthi’s continuous work of empowering people specially women, d to improve their livings.
- Kalpa represents a sustainable lifestyle brand of Mahaguthi that comprises fashion, living and giving.
Fair Trade Guarantee System
The WFTO Guarantee System (GS) is a revolutionary Fair Trade system that is credible, clear, and affordable. In 2011, the membership of the WFTO decided to develop a new type of Fair Trade system to meet the ever-growing demand for a more trustworthy Fair Trade recognition scheme in the international market.
Developed by a group of experts in the field of Fair Trade monitoring and verification, the major aspects in the development of the GS were credibility, sustainability and robustness of the system. Likewise, to achieve these three criteria, the GS has five major components. They are :new membership admission procedure, Self Assessment Report, Monitoring Audit, Peer Visit, and the Fair Trade Accountability Watch (FTAW). The FTAW is a participative monitoring mechanism that allows the public to report compliance issues regarding Fair Trade Organizations. The GS was approved and implemented by the WFTO Membership in May 2013.
The primary goal of the GS is to improve Fair Trade practices in the supply chain. In fact, it is an accountability and development tool for organizations. Carrying out all the components allows WFTO members to be more competitive and responsive to evolving markets thereby creating the potential for increased sales.
The GS is not a product certification system. Moreover, it is an assurance mechanism that Fair Trade is implemented in the supply chain and practices of the organization. Members that passed the GS process attain the ‘Guaranteed Fair Trade Organization’ status and may use the WFTO Label on their products.
Therefore, Mahaguthi Craft with Conscience is a Fair Trade Guaranteed Organization.
WFTO prescribes 10 Principles of Fair Trade that Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld:
- Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
Poverty reduction through trade forms a key part of the organization’s aims. The organization supports marginalized small producers, whether these are independent family businesses, or grouped in associations or co-operatives. It seeks to enable them to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership. The organization has a plan of action to carry this out.
- Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
The organization is transparent in its management and commercial relations. It is accountable to all its stakeholders and respects the sensitivity and confidentiality of commercial information supplied. The organization finds appropriate, participatory ways to involve employees, members and producers in its decision-making processes. It ensures that relevant information is provided to all its trading partners. The communication channels are good and open at all levels of the supply chain.
- Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
The organization trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and does not maximize profit at their expense. It is responsible and professional in meeting its commitments in a timely manner. Suppliers respect contracts and deliver products on time and to the desired quality and specifications.
- Principle Four: Payment of a Fair Price
A fair price is one that has been mutually agreed by all through dialogue and participation, which provides fair pay to the producers and can also be sustained by the market. Where Fair Trade pricing structures exist, these are used as a minimum. Fair pay means provision of socially acceptable remuneration (in the local context) considered by producers themselves to be fair and which takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Trade marketing and importing organizations support capacity building as required to producers, to enable them to set a fair price.
- Principle Five: Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
The organization adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. The organization ensures that there is no forced labor in its workforce and / or members or homeworkers.
Organizations who buy Fair Trade products from producer groups either directly or through intermediaries ensure that no forced labor is used in production and the producer complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. Any involvement of children in the production of Fair Trade products (including learning a traditional art or craft) is always disclosed and monitored and does not adversely affect the children’s well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play.
- Principle Six: Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
The organization does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
The organization has a clear policy and plan to promote gender equality that ensures that women as well as men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive and also the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives. Organizational constitutions and by-laws allow for and enable women to become active members of the organization in their own right (where it is a membership based organization), and to take up leadership positions in the governance structure regardless of women’s status in relation to ownership of assets such as land and property. Where women are employed within the organization, even where it is an informal employment situation, they receive equal pay for equal work. The organization recognizes women’s full employment rights and is committed to ensuring that women receive their full statutory employment benefits. The organization takes into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.
The organization respects the right of all employees to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively. Where the right to join trade unions and bargain collectively are restricted by law and/or political environment, the organization will enable means of independent and free association and bargaining for employees. The organization ensures that representatives of employees are not subject to discrimination in the workplace.
- Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions
The organization provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees and / or members. It complies, at a minimum, with national and local laws and ILO conventions on health and safety.
Working hours and conditions for employees and / or members (and any homeworkers) comply with conditions established by national and local laws and ILO conventions.
Fair Trade Organizations are aware of the health and safety conditions in the producer groups they buy from. They seek, on an ongoing basis, to raise awareness of health and safety issues and improve health and safety practices in producer groups.
- Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building
The organization seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through Fair Trade.
The organization develops the skills and capabilities of its own employees or members. Organizations working directly with small producers develop specific activities to help these producers improve their management skills, production capabilities and access to markets – local / regional / international / Fair Trade and mainstream as appropriate. Organizations which buy Fair Trade products through Fair Trade intermediaries in the South assist these organizations to develop their capacity to support the marginalized producer groups that they work with.
- Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade
The organization raises awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through Fair Trade. It advocates for the objectives and activities of Fair Trade according to the scope of the organization. The organization provides its customers with information about itself, the products it markets, and the producer organizations or members that make or harvest the products. Honest advertising and marketing techniques are always used.
- Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.
Buyers and importers of Fair Trade products give priority to buying products made from raw materials that originate from sustainably managed sources, and have the least overall impact on the environment.
All organizations use recycled or easily biodegradable materials for packing to the extent possible, and goods are dispatched by sea wherever possible.
- Mahaguthi celebrated world fair trade day with various programs. It organized quality improvement workshops for its in-house producers for a week starting from “Dust Off” programme, where all the producers participated in cleaning work place.
It was followed by a training from external consultant on what is quality? who is responsible for quality improvement and how we can improve the quality.
Ms. Inge Op Ten Berg from FTO Netherlands facilitated quality exercise. She explained quality from buyers perspective and reinforced the need of quality improvement at every level.
The program was concluded with group commitment for the quality and formation of groups for quality improvement.
On the occasion of World Fair Trade Day 2008, “Open House” was organized featuring new “Banzai” collection in home textile, paper and ceramics. Ms. Bhadra Kurari Ghale, President of Nepal Charkha Pracharak Gandhi-Tulshi Smarak Mahaguthi inaugurated the event. Visitors appriciated new designs.
Likewise, to celebrate the WFTD, a musical concert was organized. The fair trade song made by AFTF was composed and played. During the program President, Ms. Rita Thapa falicitated Best Producers with Father Watrin Best Producer Award and cash prizes.
“Wall Painting” on Environment was performed by children of Producers and Staffs at Production premises. The kids were given orientation about environment and asked them to paint whatever they like. The children age between 4 to 11 participated in the programme.
Mahaguthi has recently unveiled a wide range of handicraft products. The store has introduced textile products made of bamboo fibre, organic cotton and felt along with a new line-up of ceramic products and note books.
One of the well-known handicraft stores in Kathmandu, Mahaguthi said it has been introducing new products every six months. “This time, we have aimed to promote handmade products based on bamboo,” said Ramesh Maharjan, store in-charge at Mahaguthi, Lazimpat. “Similarly, the products in lacquer type and cross-stitch are also expected to attract customers,” he added.
Mahaguthi has introduced textiles and shawls made of bamboo fibre. According to the store, they are using raw materials imported from China. It claims that the products are soft and silky to the touch. “Besides, the products which give a cool sensation can be used during the summer,” said Maharjan. A shawl made of bamboo fibre costs Rs 675 to Rs 850.
Similarly, Mahaguthi stocks ceramic vessel and note books carved with bamboo designs. The ceramic products which are made in Dang and Thimi are available for Rs 120-150 per unit while a note book costs Rs 170-300.
Textiles made of organic cotton are among other attractions at the store. Maharjan claimed that demand is rising for the product as it is free of problems like allergy and other skin related problems. The price of the cloth, which is available only in white colour, starts at Rs 200 per metre. Felt stuffed animal toys are another attraction in the children’s segment. Maharjan said that they were safer as there is no danger of children inhaling fur like substances as can happen with products made of wool and other fibres. The toys cost Rs 250-450 per unit. Similarly, the store offers shawls and jackets made of nettle fibre produced in the high hill districts of the country. A shawl costs Rs 600-1,800 while a jacket costs Rs 1,200-2,500.
Mahaguthi, which has been established with the theme of craft with conscience, is a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation. The store claims that 10 percent of its revenue goes to the main producers of the products who are from underprivileged groups. In today’s edition of Bazaar, The Kathmandu Post features some products at Mahaguthi, Lazimpat.