The Tiger Bags of Bardiya



The women pictured above are among thousands of Nepalis who lost relatives during the conflict which ravaged Nepal between 1996 and 2006. They are all active in the Network of Families of the Disappeared Nepal (NEFAD), an advocacy group and partner of AP since 2015. NEFAD seeks to explain the fate of more than 2,500 Nepalis who were abducted by the security forces or Maoist rebels, never to re-appear. 

The women live in the district of Bardiya, which suffered the highest number of disappearances in Nepal, and have formed a cooperative. Several Peace Fellows have worked in Bardiya and helped cooperative members to memorialize their loved ones through embroidered squares. In 2019, Bobbi Fitzsimmons from AP visited Bardiya to help the cooperative assemble the squares into two memorial quilts. (Bobbi’s own journey is described in this video.)

The Bardiya cooperative has now moved from story-telling to income-generation. The members have applied their stitching skills to the making of Tiger bags in honor of the tigers who live in the Bardiya National Park near their homes. AP is helping to promote the bags internationally and raise seed money through Global Giving. Six cooperative members are currently making bags and each bag carries the hand-woven signature of the bag-maker. The bags, signatures and artists are show on the next tab.

The bags are for sale at $40, including postage. To order a bag or for more information please contact us at:, or call +1 202 422 2479.


Red Tiger

by Sarita

16″ by 17″ $40




Tiger with Gold Eyes

by Alina

16″ by 17″ $40




Tiger with Green Eyes

by Kancham

16″ by 17″ $40




Tiger with Gold Eyes

By Kushma

16″ by 17″ $40





Tiger with Orange Eyes

By Sharmila

16″ by 17″ $40





Tiger with Blue Eyes

By Geeta

16″ by 17″ $40






The artists and their bags

(#1) Red Tiger by Sarita


Sarita Thapa: Sarita is the inspiration behind the Bardiya cooperative. She was eleven when her father Shayam Bahadur was denounced by a cousin as a Maoist and taken away by the police, never to reappear. Sarita, her mother and younger brother were ostracized and driven from the village. Sarita gave up school to concentrate on the search for her father and suffered further tragedy when her husband died from a snakebite. But these misfortunes only stiffened Sarita’s resolve. She returned to school and completed grade 12 with girls half her age. She has also trained herself to become an expert seamstress. She is a strong believer in embroidery as a way to empower women and has led the projects to produce memorial squares and Tiger bags with enthusiasm. But the wistful look is never far away. Even the friendship of women cannot compensate for Sarita’s terrible losses.



(#2) Tiger with Gold Eyes by Alina


Alina Chaudhary

At 17, Alina is the youngest member of the cooperative and the other members hover around her protectively at meetings. Alina was an infant when her father Hira Mani disappeared in 2003. Hira Mani made furniture and earned 90,000 rupees a month – a significant amount. One day, he went to work at a neighbor’s house and never returned home. Soldiers came to the family home and questioned Manju, her mother. Manju was about to follow them when a neighbor stopped her, afraid that they would take Manju away as well. When AP met Alina in April 2019 she had produced several squares that showed her skills as an artist.

(#3) Tiger with Green Eyes by Kancham


Kancham Chaudhary

Kancham is always ready with a smile. She is also an excellent artist and she has brought all of her skill to the Bardiya embroidery project. Her first memorial square described in vivid detail the fateful afternoon in 2002 when her brother was shot and her father was taken off for questioning. A second, smaller, square shows Kancham being consoled by her mother.  The years following her brother’s death were not kind to Kancham’s family. His widow remarried, which meant that Kancham’s mother did not at first receive compensation (which goes to the wife or children). When we first met Kancham in 2016 she had dropped out of school because the family could not afford the cost of her education. But when we returned in April 2019 Kancham was two months into a well-paying new job and – typically generous – paying for her sister’s education. Kancham’s mother is justly proud of her daughter and says with a smile that other families in the village are jealous of her success. Kancham loves the cooperative and they appreciate her sense of humor. But her loss is never far from her mind.

(#4) Tiger with Gold Eyes by Kushma


Kushma Chaudhary

Kushma has made two squares describing the way her father Ton Bahadur was taken from home by soldiers at night after being denounced to the Army by a jealous neighbor. Kushma is close to the younger members of the cooperative and is elegant, smart, and sophisticated. But her life has not been easy since her father disappeared. Kushma left school after grade 10 because money was short. She has not yet married because her mother cannot afford to pay a second dowry since Kushma’s older sister was married. The family has not been helped by a long-running dispute with in-laws over the ownership of land. Kushma has made new friends through the cooperative and sees the group as a way to learn new skills and escape the pressure at home. She was the natural choice to manage the cooperative’s new shop and will play an important role in managing the business.

(#5) Tiger with Orange Eyes by Sharmila


Sharmila Dharkutua

Sharmila’s first memorial square stood out for its raw and angry denunciation of the army. It describes the arrest of her father Kallu, who was in no way political: “A large group of soldiers came to our home and demanded that we open the door. My father was not even dressed. At least they allowed him to put on some clothes.” The family went to the local army base but could get no news. Sharmila was the youngest of six children and in her second year of university when we first met. But she has had to work the land to make ends meet and pay for school, which costs 2,000 a year. When asks whether it is time to forget, she blinks back tears: “My family was dependent on my father. I remember him a lot!”

(#6) Tiger with Blue Eyes by Geeta


Geeta Chaudhary

Gita is one of the cooperative’s most skillfull artists. She was seven when one of her four brothers, Lallu, 18, was taken from the family home in Sujanpuri village. Lallu was a student but not a Maoist. Why does Gita think he was seized? “It was the worst time of the insurgency and any young man was considered a threat.” Gita’s father went to see Lallu in the army barracks and signed for his bail. Shortly afterwards Lallu suddenly diappeared. The family purchased 3 khatta of land (one tength of an acre) with the compensation money. Gita was old enough to know her brother well and she remembers the way he could encourage her to learn. “He was very well educated. He used to teach me.” Gita loves the social side of the cooperative and is one of several younger members who joke with each other and teach each other complicated stitches. Gita learned to sew very fast and is one of the most talented seamstresses.