The Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom was founded in 1957 by Sikkim government in an effort to preserve and promote traditional arts and crafts. With time it evolved as a centre for sustainable development of the region focussing on utilising the traditional knowledge and human resources. In modern perspective the centre serves as a important tool for providing employment and self-reliance across the strata of society covering diverse region, income rang and education. The centre has now expanded to 32 training centres with 650 trainees and 13 production units. The head office is located in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. It provides training in carpet weaving, handloom, thanka painting, handmade paper, wood-carving, cane & bamboo craft, soft toys and multi-crafts. Training period ranges from 2-4 years depending on the craft. After that the artisans can either work in the centre’s production units or work outside on their own. In order to promote the initiative the government also gives stipend to the students.
The process of carpet weaving at DHH is very similar to other oriental carpet weaving techniques. It is done on fixed vertical looms made of wood or iron with hand-knotting. The training is of two years with pupils of age 14 to 24 years. In first year techniques such as carding, plain weave and yarn spinning are taught. The second year consists of working on different designs. The designs are mostly of mythical birds, flowers like lotus, snow-lions and eight Buddhist lucky signs.