Palang or Jandhom
Palang or Jandhom is a wooden container traditionally used for storing Ara (locally brewed alcohol). The age old craft has been a lifeline for Bhutanese communities. It is often made out of bamboo, horn, or wood and is decorated with brass rings or other metals, making it an exquisite piece. The people in the east are widely known for using the container to store and offer alcohol to their guests even to this day. For some, it serves as a home decorative piece.
First, the wood is cut into the size of the flask. It is then drilled inside and then chiseled to give the proper shape and size. The next step is to dry it in the sun for almost a week after which the outer part of the container is painted. It is then ornamented with brass or other metals, making it an exquisite piece.
The people in the east widely use the container to store and offer alcohol to the guests even to this day. For some, it serves a home decorative piece.
What is Ara?
Ara (ཨ་རག་) is the most common alcoholic drink in traditional Bhutan. As ara plays an important role in the social and religious culture of Bhutan, it is made at home all over Bhutan. The practice of making the distilled ara is very common, mostly undertaken by women of the household.
Several cereals are used for making ara and the practice varies from region to region. In eastern parts of Bhutan, maize is the most common material for ara although millet, rice and wheat are also used. In the highlands and valleys of central Bhutan, wheat and barley are commonly used while buckwheat is also used sometimes. In western parts of Bhutan, wheat, rice and barley are the main ingredients for ara. People today also used apples and potatoes to produce ara.
Written by Sonam Chophel and Karma Phuntsho. Sonam Chophel was a researcher at Shejun Agency for Bhutan’s Cultural Documentation and Research and Karma Phuntsho is a social thinker and worker, the President of the Loden Foundation and the author of many books and articles including The History of Bhutan.