Allo is an important part of the cultural heritage of the Klung tribe that lives in the Himalayan mountains. For many generations, Allo has been used as material for textiles and clothes for special occasions such as weddings and funerals.
Allo is a textile fibre obtained from the bark of nettle. In order to remove the bark, the stem is first snapped in two. The next step is to bite a small hole in the stem from which the bark gets torn off. The removed bits of bark are collected and then taken to the village for drying.
The dryed bark is boiled together with ash in order to make the fibre softer. After cooking, the fibre is rinsed. The clean fibre is then wrapped between fingers into a bundle, and a wooden club is used to beat the bundle, so that the fibre continues to soften.
After rinsing, the fibre is mixed with white clay and left to dry. Once the clay is dry, it needs to be beaten off from the fibre. Finally, they fiber is carefully combed through to make sure all of the clay comes off.
After the clay treatment, the fibre is ready for spinning. Spinning is time-consumingand requires expertise, but these tribal women are so skilled they can even walk and spin at the same time!
The Allo scarves are knitted from the finished yarn. The Kulung women use different lace patterns for the scarves. The women pass these patterns down from generation to generation. The yarn is very thin, so the lace pattern shows beautifully.
Ready-made textiles are collected together in the villages and inspected. The women keep detailed records of who has produced what. The finished products are carried from the village to the of city Khandbari. The journey takes two days by foot. In Khandbari, an organisation called Allo Samaj pays a fair salary for each scarf. Allo Samaj transports the products to Kathmandu, where a representative of theorganisation sells the products to local shops.
Why buy Allo products?
The Allo products are an essential source of income for the poor Kulung-families.
Women are in charge of manufacturing the Allo products, and the income boosts their self-esteem and their position in the community.
Allo products also have an ecological impact on the steep slopes of the Himalayas: Allo only grows in the shade of trees, so in order to provide this nettle with favorable conditions for growth, the surrounding forests need to be protected. Protecting forests prevents erosion.