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Mahila E-haat(Online market place)


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Hon'ble Minister of Women & Child Development

 

This is a direct online market place. Contact vendor directly for orders and purchases.This Portal does not permit display of illegal or contraband goods and services. View More

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PITARA : Conversations - Hamari Baat

PITARA : Conversations - Hamari Baat

 

International Women's Day, originally called International Working Women’s Day, is celebrated on March 8 every year, after the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women's rights and world peace in 1977.

It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to division, whether national, ethnic linguistic, cultural economic or political.
*Sources: UN & Wikipedia

Inauguration of Mahila E-Haat on the eve of Women's Day, is aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs, by providing them with an online marketing platform for showcasing their products and strengthening their inclusion in the economy.

Poem

Free will

“Like all beings
You too were born
With a FREE WILL
To choose, to decide
To lead your life

Yet you did not do so
You gave away …
Your Free will
And suffered in Silence

Now, shed all hesitation
Awake, arise, empower yourself
Break free,
Be who you are
What you are,
Earn your dignity,
your self esteem
Come enjoy
Your gift of life.”
 

By Ms. Sangeeta Gupta, an artist, poet, film maker and a civil servant with 28 solo exhibitions of paintings, 9 published books of poems, short stories and photographs and 7 documentary films to her credit is engaged in social activities for promotions of art & culture.


The lure of Indigo

There’s a magnetic lure to an indigo-white creation. 

When creations in indigo and white are a rage, a look at the slow process of using natural, plant-based indigo and its merits over the chemical dye becomes a fascinating topic of interest. 

Designers are constantly working on it nationally and globally. The retail players peddle hard-to-resist indigo collections. An outfit is purchased, worn and there’s no dearth of compliments. The magic stays until the fabric is put to wash. Then begin the doubts: The colour runs, and runs some more, with each wash. None of the DIY Do It Yourself tips help. At times, one doesn’t have to wait till the fabric is washed.

The bitter truth lies in the retail sector using synthetic, chemical indigo. 

Those who painstakingly work with natural dyes have a difficult time in comparison to the chemical indigo. Due to a lack of knowledge consumers are being taken for a ride. Synthetic indigo, from a chemical source, is less expensive compared to the plant-based one. 

Till recent years Kadapa boasted of a large indigo farm. “A foreigner purchased the farm and the farmer has now turned a realtor."This is the irony of the Indigo.

A kilo of plant-based indigo, in cake form, costs up to Rs. 2000. 

The most popular source of indigo is from Tamil Nadu. 

The indigo cakes are placed in vats, then are treated with ash water, lime and other ingredients. The liquor is green. “When a fabric is dipped and taken out, it comes in contact with the air and oxidation turns it blue. Hence people call indigo a magic dye.

Labour-intensive process

"You can end up with blotches of indigo on your back, arms, wherever, if it’s a chemical .From cultivating the crop to extracting colour, it’s a long process. The intensity of the colour on the fabric depends on the number of times it is dipped in the dye. To get a deep hue, a fabric may need to be dipped 15 to 20 times. The way indigo works fills me with wonder even today. A lot of things are at work. When you receive a stock of indigo cakes, it has to be tested for impurities. Imagine working on a fabric with shibori patterns, using the dye and discovering that the colour is mixed with mud in the final stage, but it is known to happen. All craftspeople know & believe that natural colours when duly employed, do not bleed. “The fabric undergoes a few washes at different stages of block printing as well, so bleeding is ever an option. Any excess colour is washed away. A finished product that uses natural colours should not bleed. Allow the colour to dry for two days in warm weather conditions and four to five days in cooler climes.

Indigo can easily be termed as a temperamental colour, It needs to be treated with love & respect during preparation & dying as well. Once treated in this manner it unfolds its intrinsic magic

Slow fashion

Natural indigo is used in pockets of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan among weavers and block printers who follow traditional techniques. Two years ago, on a textile trail to Kutch, meticulous use of indigo vats by the Vankar family of weavers in Bhujodi was witnessed & understood. The ‘how to’ of spinning, weaving and dyeing is passed on from one generation to the next. Block printers in Ajrakhpur and Dhamadka, Kutch, follow a slow process of employing natural dyes. They’ve been at it before terms like sustainable and slow fashion came into vogue. However, many others turned to screen printing and chemical dyes to roll out new collections in a shorter time for better revenues. 

Historical connect

Indigo, like all other natural dyes, has been around for eons. The growing interest in indigenous hand-woven fabrics and techniques in recent years has brought indigo to the mainstream. Indigo has an emotional connect to India.

The indigo plant has been an enduring symbol of British exploitation throughout the independence struggle. It had caused the cultivators to protest against the unfair practices of the British Raj. Mahatma Gandhi started his first satyagraha at Champaran in Bihar against the British policy of Tinkathia system implemented on the indigo cultivators of the region. Champaran then was an important place for indigo cultivation. This later came to be known as the Champaran satyagraha. 

The Champaran agitation in Bihar and its importance in freedom movement is well recorded. 

Can a buyer tell a fabric that uses natural indigo from a chemical one? “There’s no way of knowing unless the seller spells it out. Fabrics that use natural indigo, owing to its labour intensive process, will not come cheap. A metre of block printed indigo fabric can cost Rs. 650 per metre .Fabrics that use natural indigo, in the right technique, do not bleed. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, houses centuries old kalamkari textiles from India that use madder and indigo. The Indigo-dyed fabrics have many sensitive & knowledgable takers in Japan and the US.The thirst for purity & authenticity is what will help survive the beauty of natural colours . We in India must continue to play are part in this journey. 

 

Indigo dye in blocks

The Eternal Saree

Perhaps the most popular traditional Indian garment is the saree which is made using many distinctive textiles, fabrics, colours, patterns, motifs, designs and precious zari, bead & stone work, etc.

No matter what your individual style maybe, you are sure to find a beautiful sari that will match your taste, given the large collection of stunning Indian sarees available in India. And the best part, saris can be worn at almost all occasions be it weddings, formal parties, family get togethers and more!

Let's take a look at some different varieties of fabrics used to make saris in India -

1. Cotton Saris - Cotton saris are evergreen sarees which never go out of style, especially in those parts of India where the heat becomes unbearable in the summer months. Light, airy and comfortable, cotton saris are woven in almost all parts of the country.

2. Silk Saris - Heavy silk sarees are very popular in India and are especially worn by women while attending special occasions such as weddings, etc. There are many different kinds of silk sarees available. Here are some of them

  • Baluchari Silks - Baluchari silks originate in (West Bengal) are known for their beautiful, larger than life motifs & vibrant colors.
  • Banarasi Silk Saris - These banarasi silk saris are manufactured in Varanasi and are very well known all across the country. The most eye catching feature of these banarasi silks is the popular Jaal work, heavy zari work (gold or silver) as well as interesting figures depicting the Mughal motifs . Never to go out of style, these beautiful, rich and elegant saris are definitely worth the investment
  • Kanchipuram Silks - The southern states of India such as Tamil Nadu which is home to the Kanchipuram silks is considered to be the hub for beautiful, rich & pure, high quality silk saris. Kanchipuram silks are known for their rich, silk woven zari borders which carry motifs of flowers, etc. Kanchipuram brocade silks are so regal and rich in their look and feel that they make ideal wedding attire.
  • Paithani Silk Saris - Paithani silks are manufactured in a small town in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The most distinguishing design on these saris include beautiful nature-based motifs of trees, plants and birds. These saris have a very pleasing, rich look with beautiful gold base & elegant silk patterns.
  • Mysore Silk is another famous Silk saris rom Karnataka

3. Bandhani Saris - Bandhani saris are made using the tie and dye technique which creates beautiful and eye catching patterns onto the cotton fabrics. Vibrant, colourful and attractive, Bandhani saris are manufactured in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Besides sarees, Bandhani material is also used for creating dupattas, turbans, etc. Besides these, the Gharchola saris from Jamnagar and Rajkot are also quite popular. These usually adorn small motifs of peacocks etc and have a gold thread.

4. Patola Saris - These handmade handloom saris originate in the town of Patan, in Gujarat and are made using the resist-dyeing techniqe. Some of the most popular designs on these patola saris include figures, flowers, birds, etc. The Patola Silk saris are also very beautiful and created by weavers who are masters in their craft. Usually, several months are taken to create a Patola sari masterpiece due to its intricate design. Colours used include red, green, black, and yellow, etc.

5. Gadwal Saris - Hand woven Gadwal saris from Andhra Pradesh may be manufactured using cotton, silk or zari. The borders generally contain motifs of peacocks, etc and may come in light colors such as sea green, browns, off-whites, etc.

6. Zardozi Saris - Gold embroidery technique used to create the rich and always-in-style zardozi saris is well known. If there is one sari which should always be a part of a girl's wedding trousseau, it is the zardosi sari, thanks to its sheer good looks.

7. Kota Saris - Kota saris from Kota in Rajasthan is another variety of cotton saris, ideal for the summer months. Also known as 'kotadoria', these saris may be made of cotton or cotton/silk weave. Since Kota saris have fine weave, they are extremely lightweight and airy saris.

8. Jamawar Saris - The famous Jamawar silk sari comes from the state of Uttar Pradesh. These saris are woven and embellished using silk gold zari threadwork. The most defining trait of a jamawar sari is the back portion of the sari which shows a beautiful array of threads which are used to weave the silk sari.

9. Chanderi Saris - The Chanderi saree originates from the state of Madhya Pradesh. Usually made using fine cotton or silk, these saris consist of patterns from Chanderi temples.

10. Maheshwari Saris - Cotton and silk Maheshwari sarees come with a beautiful gold, zari border.

Besides these, there are other types of saris which display intricate hand-work, embroidery such as the chikan embroidery from UP, Kasuti from Karnataka , appliqué work from Orissa , Gujarat & Rajasthan . Phulkari from Punjab & the Long & Short stitch embroideries from Jammu & Kashmir to name a few.

Indian Handwoven Fabrics

Indian hand woven fabrics have been known since time immemorial. Poets of the Mughal durbar likened our muslins to bafthawa (woven air), aberawan (running water) and shabnam (morning dew). A tale runs that Emperor Aurangzeb had a fit of rage when he one day saw his daughter princess Zeb-un-Nissa clad in almost nothing. On being severely rebuked, the princess explained that she had not one but seven jamahs (dresses) on her body. Such was the fineness of the hand woven fabrics.

Historical Evidence

Though India was famous even in ancient times as an exporter of textiles to most parts of the civilized world, few actual fabrics of the early dyed or printed cottons have survived. This, it is explained is due to a hot, moist climate and the existence of the monsoons in India. It is not surprising therefore, that Egypt which has an exceptionally dry climate would provide evidence which India lacks. The earliest Indian fragment of cloth (before the Christian era) with a hansa (swan) design was excavated from a site near Cairo where the hot dry sand of the desert acted as a preservative.

Later, fragments of finely woven and madder-dyed cotton fabrics and shuttles were found at some of the excavated sites of Mohenjodaro (Indus valley civilization). Indian floral prints, dating back to the 18th century A.D were discovered by Sir Aurel Stein in the icy waters of Central Asia. The evidence shows that of all the arts and crafts of India, traditional handloom textiles are probably the oldest.

Handlooms The Largest Cottage Industry

Handlooms are an important craft product and comprise the largest cottage industry of the country. Millions of looms across the country are engaged in weaving cotton, silk and other natural fibers. There is hardly a village where weavers do not exist, each weaving out the traditional beauty of India's own precious heritage.

The Indian Heritage

In the world of handlooms, there are Madras checks from Tamil Nadu, ikats from Andhra and Orissa, tie and dye from Gujarat and Rajasthan, brocades from Banaras, jacquards form Uttar Pradesh.Daccai from West Bengal, and phulkari from Punjab. Yet, despite this regional distinction there has been a great deal of technical and stylistic exchange.

The famed Coimbatore saris have developed while imitating the Chanderi pattern of Madhya Pradesh. Daccai saris are now woven in Bengal, no Dhaka. The Surat tanchoi based on a technique of satin weaving with the extra weft floats that are absorbed in the fabric itself has been reproduced in Varanasi. Besides its own traditional weaves, there is hardly any style of weaving that Varanasi cannot reproduce. The Baluchar technique of plain woven fabric brocaded with untwisted silk thread, which began in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, has taken root in Varanasi. Their craftsmen have also borrowed the jamdani technique.

Woolen weaves are no less subtle. The Kashmiri weaver is known the world over for his Pashmina and Shahtoosh shawls. The shawls are unbelievably light and warm.

The states of Kashmir and Karnataka are known for their mulberry silk. India is the only country in the world producing all four commercially known silks - mulberry, tasser (tussore), eri and muga. Now gaining popularity in the U.S.A. and Europe tasser is found in the remote forests of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Another kind of raw silk is eri. Eri is soft, dull and has wool like finish.

Assam is the home of eri and muga silk. Muga is durable and its natural tones of golden yellow and rare sheen becomes more lustrous with every wash. The designs used in Assam, Tripura and Manipur are mostly stylized symbols, cross borders and the galaxy of stars. Assamese weavers produce beautiful designs on the borders of their mekhla, chaddar, riha (traditional garments used by the women) and gamosa (towel). It is customary in Assamese society for a young woman to weave a silk bihuan (cloth draped over the chest) for her beloved as a token of love on Bohag Bihu (new year's eve).

From Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat come the ikats. The ikat technique in India is commonly known as patola in Gujarat, bandha in Orissa, pagdubandhu, buddavasi and chitki in Andhra Pradesh. In the ikat tie and dye process, the designs in various colors are formed on the fabric either by the warp threads or the weft threads or by both. The threads forming the design are tied and dyed separately to bring in the desired color and the simple interlacement of the threads produces, the most intricate designs, that appear only in the finished weaving. The Orissa ikat is a much older tradition that Andhra Pradesh or Gujarat, and their more popular motifs as such are a stylized fish and the rudraksh bead. Here the color is built up thread by thread. In fact, Orissa ikat is known now as yarn tie and dye. In Andhra Pradesh, they bunch some threads together and tie and dye and they also have total freedom of design.

Some say that ikat was an innovative technique, first created in India, which wast later carried to Indonesia, the only other place in the world with a strong ikat tradition.

Using Dyes

The process of resist dyeing, tie-dyeing and yarns tie-dyed to a pattern before weaving were the basic techniques of indigenous dyeing of village cloth. Shellac was used for reds, iron shavings and vinegar for blacks, turmeric for yellow and pomegranate rinds for green.

Before the artificial synthesis of indigo and alizarin as dye stuffs, blues and reds were traditionally extracted from the plants indigofera, anil and rubiatintorum (madder-root). These were the main sources for traditional Indian dyes.

Even today, the Kalmkari cloth of Andhra Pradesh is printed with local vegetable dyes. The colors being shades of ochre, deep blue and a soft rose derived from local earths, indigo and madder roots.

Printing

Andhra Pradesh has made a significant contribution to the history of hand-printed textiles in India. Printing is native to the land, its pigments being obtained from the flowers, leaves and barks of local trees and it chemicals obtained from clay, dung and river sands.

A new technique has been developed in the northern sectors where warp threads are lined, measured and tied to the loom and then printed. The warp-printed material is a specialty of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The ideal seasons for block printing are the dry months. Excellence is achieved only if the block is freshly and perfectly chiseled. The designs are produced by artists and the designing is kept within the discipline imposed, the type of yarn, the dyes used and the weaving techniques, by the nakshabandhas (graph-paper designers).

India also produces a range of home furnishings, household linen, curtain tapestry and yardage of interesting textures and varying thickness, which have been devised by using blended yarn.

Muslims were forbidden the use of pure silk, and the half cotton half silk, fabrics known, as mashru and himru were a response to this taboo.

Given the wide and exciting range of handloom it is not surprising that the rich and beautiful products of the weavers of India have been called "exquisite poetry in colorful fabrics."

Ethnic-Weaves-and-Prints-of-India

Indian handlooms are known for their richness, exquisiteness, variety and fine quality. They are an integral part of Indian culture and festival or occasion is complete without them. The passage of time has brought about a change in the weaves, patterns and designs boasting of glamor, magnificence and exquisiteness but the importance of handlooms still remains the same.

As an economic activity, handlooms comprise the largest cottage industry in the country. Millions of looms across the country are engaged in weaving cotton, silk and other natural fibers to bring out traditional beauty of India’s precious heritage and also providing livelihood to millions of families. There is hardly a village where weavers do not exist weaving out the traditional beauty of the region. The skills and activities are kept alive by passing the skills from generation to generation. What sets our handloom apart is the excellent workmanship, color combination and fine quality.

Indian weavers blend myths, faiths, symbols and imagination to bring an appealing dynamism to the fabric. It is the distinct form of art, weave and color usage of the artisan that give every region its distinctive identity and uniqueness. Today varieties are created using contemporary fiber, modern designs and new techniques of weaving.

Popular weaves of India

Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is renowned for its handloom. It produces the most exclusive sarees and dress-materials, having delicate and distinctive designs. Each saree boasts of an intricate pallu and a delicate border adornd with gold thread work. The looms of Pochampalli, Venkatagiri, Gadwal, Narayanpet, Dharmavaram, Uppadas are well-kown for their silk and cotton sarees all over India. Mangalgiri cottons and Kalmkari prints are the other varieties of the state. Usually, both the loom and the fabric are known by the name of the place.

Bihar

Bihar is know for Tussar silk which is a non mulberry silk variety and handwoven cotton Mulmuls. The weaver community developed high level of silk in tussar silk spinning to give unique low-twist tussar silk yarns which helped create the characteristics tussar textured silk fabrics that are unique. The Mulmuls of Madhubani, like the paintings, are still a craze amongst lovers of fine cotton fabrics.

Chhattisgarh

The ‘Kosa’ of Chhattisgarh is a type of tussar. It comes in varied weave patterns that are block printed, painted or embroidered, The sturdy kosa yarn called giccha is coarse and is more durable. The silk is is valued for its purity and texture. Kosa Silk is drawn from cocoons especially grown on Arjun, Saja or Sal trees. Available naturally in shades of gold-pale, dark, honey, tawny, baccoto beige, creamy, etc.

Gujarat

Gujarat is famous for its Patola print. This is a tie and dye technique which requires intricate weaving thereby making it expensive and exclusive. They are known for their flaming vibrant colors and geomatric designs interspersed with folk motifs. Gujarat handlooms are also well known for the block prints using vegetable dyes and the famous Kutch embroidery.

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is popular for its printed pure silk, crepe and chiffon sarees, kashida embroidered dresses, the pashmina shawls with delicate hand embroidery. The tweeds and embroideries are so unique that it is a pride to be in possession of them. The elegant color and bold embroidery make them very popular among every age group.

Karnataka

Karnataka is the home of mulberry silk. The Mysore silk sarees with pure zari borders are the dream possessions of every woman in India. The printed silk, silk sarees with kasuti embroidery, the belgaum sarees are the other famous varieties available in the state.

Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is the home of delicate Chanderi Silk and Maheshwari sarees. Soft, subtle shades in delicate weaves come off the looms in Chanderi. Here, silk is used as the wrap and cotton for the weft to produce the famous Chanderi sarees. The Maheshwari craftsmen have perfected the art of weaving a wide variety of checks and designs.

Maharashtra

Maharashtra is known for its rich and exquisite Paithani brocades that are the prized heirlooms and possessions for many even today. They come in Kum-kum colors with contrasting borders with gold coin or dot motifs. The VidarbhaKarvati saree in kosa silk is famous for its texture and pattern with temple design borders which are unique and elegant.

Orissa

Orissa is famous for its sambalpuri and Bomkai handlooms. Sambalpuriikat is a double tie and dye art where intricate designs based on mythology are created by the tie and dye technique in both silk and mercerized cotton. The bomkari is the other special variety where border designs are based on mythology with animal and floral patterns. Due to the richness in fabric used, these handlooms are priced higher and look more elegant with time.

Rajasthan

Rajasthan is very famous for the bandhani or bandhej which is also a tie and dye technique. The leheriya is a special variety of tie and die where diagonal stripes are created in cotton, silk, crepe, chiffon and kotadoria fabrics. It is also famous for its sanganeri block, Dabu and bagru prints. Gota, zardosi and zari are used for bridal and formal ensembles. The patch work especially in home furnishing is gaining popularity.

Tamil Nadu

The Chettinads and Coimbatore cottons are famous of Tamil Nadu. They come in stripes and checks with traditional borders which appear rich and aristocratic.

Uttar Pradesh

The Lucknow chickan embroidery is very famous of Uttar Pradesh. Delicately designed and embroidered on cottons, crepes and chiffon, they are usually available in pastel colors and reflect elegance.

West Bengal

The Baluchari and Kantha work sarees in cotton and silk of West Bengal are of great attraction. The Balucharis reflect the rustic culture of our villages while the Kantha embroidery exhibits the creativity of our artisans. It is an exotic form of embroidery in which the eye, emotion and skills are combined into one. The Dacaai’sTangails and Batiks are the popular cottons of the state.

Handloom

India is home to a plethora of handlooms, weaves and handicrafts. While these are arts and crafts that are always in danger of succumbing to modern technology and getting buried under a sea of faster, quicker methods to manufacture; there are several that still survive and thrive. It’s a different feeling of owning a material that has been carefully put together and woven, and these seven ethic weaves, produced indigenously, have a particularly special feel about them. Take a look at a few before you shop for your next material.

1. BOMKAI HANDLOOM

Where it’s from: Subarnapur, Orissa

What you need to know: The starring feature of this gorgeous weave is the thread-work ornament borders that they use to make saris. The thread count is low, but the material is very popular because of the patterns created on it and the bright colors that it is dyed in. Often, patterns are woven in the material in contrasting colors, making the material stand out more than usual. Still wondering, whether the weave is for you? Well, it’s a weave that’s super popular amongst celebrities, so it’s probably time you give it a try.

2. MANGALAGIRI COTTON

Where it’s from: Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

What you need to know: It’s popularly used to create saris and is mostly characterized by tiny checks, sometimes stripes that you can barely see with your naked eye. The weave is extremely fine and usually finished off in really bright colors. The handlooms usually have a thread-count of 80-80 or 40-60, depending on how hard or soft the woven fabric is. The cloth usually falls under a crisp category, making the clothing items pretty stiff but very durable.

3. TUSSAR SILK

Where it’s from: Jharkhand

What you need to know: Have you heard of sericulture? It’s basically the production of fabric from the protein extracted out of the larvae of silkworms. This is how this gorgeous Indian weave is made, and the weaving produces a fabric in a natural gold color. This can be dyed of course, but it’s pretty gorgeous on its own as well, even with the heavy textures. The fabric can only be dry cleaned, and it’s both delicate as well as stiff, and this makes it fall beautifully when it’s used in an ethnic outfit. The rich, coarse texture may make it look heavy but it is light on your skin, which makes it perfect for the weather in India. In places like West Bengal, this handloom is used for Kantha embroidery. If you’re looking for something that’s similar to Tussar but much more comfortable and very light, you can pick Kosar (from Champa in Chhattisgarh). This is produced by a worm that is similar to the silk worm, so it’s not as exclusive. It’s soft, but sturdy so you know that clothes in this material will last you longer. It’s an all natural material, and even if you don’t want to use the original dull gold shade (very similar to Tussar) you can pick from the dyed options – and still stay natural as shades are usually made with pollen and flower by-products.

4. PAITHANI BROCADE

Where it’s from: Aurangabad, Maharashtra

What you need to know: The materials of this weave, whose name is based on the town that the art comes from (Paithan), are usually available as finished products in a variety of rainbow colors, making them one of the most fun weaves out there. However, since they’re made from extremely fine silk, they’re also one of the most luxurious and coveted types. The process to make this weave is a type of silk weaving, but what makes it such a highly sought after thing is the fact that it’s woven in with zari, which makes it look so shiny. Though there are cheaper varieties available, but it’s usually a pretty expensive piece to buy, often woven with colors going lengthwise and widthwise for a little variation causing a rainbow effect. The material takes longer than most (months on end) to be woven.

5. MAHESHWARI HANDLOOM

Where it’s from: Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh

What you need to know: This is as royal as you’re going to get with an ethnic weave. The popular weave is made with silk or cotton threads that are usually combined together to make thicker threads, then woven into a really soft, gorgeous looking handloom piece. The end result is a dense weave, and while most other handlooms pop with bright colors, you will find these in softer, though bold shades of green or pink. Sometimes, checks and patterns are woven in with the material, making them even more distinctive as materials. This is also very popularly used to make salwar suits, apart from the saris that most ethnic weaves are best suited to.

6. POCHAMPALLY IKAT

Where it’s from: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

What you need to know: While ikat is usually a type of dyeing, this takes place before it’s even woven, making it an intrinsic part of the weave itself. The ikat woven material is beautiful, and it’s a hand-done process that takes quite a while. It can be colored or uncolored and when they’re done as pochampally material, are attractively patterned as well. There are several motifs on the material. When pochampally is made into attire, it’s usually complemented by heavy ikat-printed borders as well. They are smoother and lighter than most hand woven textiles, and are pretty costly. There are several types of this process – namely warp, weft and double, so you can pick your type according to your budget, and whether you want the patterns to be as visible.

7. PATOLA WEAVE

Where it’s from: Patan, Gujarat

What you need to know: Just like ikat, this also is a weave involving print. However, the reason why this is such an important one on our list is, because the art is slowly dying out. That’s because it’s not a process that is taught to everyone, and is something that is so traditional. The process itself has never left the area of its origin – although imitations do exist. The method of weaving can’t be completely explained because of this, but we know that it’s pretty similar to the double ikat style and made from silk. What we can tell you is that the final product is available in an array of beautiful, bright colors, and that the weave is pretty tight, and a closely knit one, that’s often complemented by bright, Indian motifs and designs.

DESTINATIONS

 

 

 

* Source: Nicole

Handicrafts

Handicrafts commonly refer to handmade crafts or artisanry. Skilled people create varied types of items starting from consumer goods to decorative pieces out of paper, wood, clay, shells, rock, stone, metal, etc. with the help of simple tools. These kinds of items are called handicrafts owing to the fact that these crafted items are solely handmade without or minimal usage of any machine.

Are handicrafts popular in India?

India is known for its ethnicity. As far as art and culture is concerned, India features amongst the culturally rich countries in the world. The country is fortunate enough to possess some highly skilled artisans. They have increased the fame of Indian handicrafts around the globe. Many rural people still earn their livelihood from their creative pieces of art.

Different kinds of Handicrafts in India

India is a manufacturing hub of varied kinds of handicrafts, which are popular even in international markets. The most known form of handicrafts in India, are discussed below:

Bamboo Handicrafts: Being a producer of bamboo, handicrafts made from bamboo are one of the eco-friendly crafts in India. Utilitarian objects like trays, baskets, stylish furniture, etc.are also made from bamboo & cane . 

The varied items made from bamboo are baskets, dolls, toys, chalani, furniture, mats, wall-hangings, umbrella handles, crossbows, khorahi, kula, dukula, kathi, jewellery boxes and many more. Bamboo handicrafts are mostly made in most parts of the country . 

Bell Metal Handicrafts: The hard form of bronze, which is usually used to make bells, is referred as bell metal. This kind of hard alloy is used to make crafts like vermilion boxes, bowls, candle stands, donari (pendants) and many more. This bell metal crafts are mostly prevalent in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Manipur. In Madhya Pradesh, this form of handicraft is even regarded as "tribal craft".

Bone and Horn Handicrafts: Originated in the state of Odisha, the bone and horn handicrafts are famous for creating birds and animal figures, which seem real and alive. Besides, goods like pen stands, ornaments, cigarette cases, table lamps, pepper and salt sets, chess sets, napkin rings, laughing Buddha etc. are prepared in Odisha, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh.

Brass Handicrafts: Durability of brass items adds to the fame of brassware. Items made of brass like crawling Krishna, Lord Ganeshas figure in different postures, vases, table tops, perforated lamps, ornament boxes, hukkas, toys, wine glasses, plates, fruit bowls and many more are extensively used in many Indian houses till now. These artisans are famously known as "Kansaris". The manufacturing of brassware is mainly done in Rajasthan.

Clay Handicrafts or Pottery: With its origination during the Indus Valley Civilization, clay craft or pottery is said to be one of the most primitive forms of handicrafts in India. People engaged in pottery are called "Kumhaars". Besides its world famous Terracotta form, pottery has got different forms like red ware, grey ware and black ware. Uttar Pradesh is known for its painted black wares. Besides, Krishnanagar in West Bengal, Bikaner, Lucknow, Pune and Himachal Pradesh even prepare clay ware. Items like clay pots, decorative items, jewellery, etc. are widely used all over the country.

Dhokra Handicrafts: Dhokra, the oldest form of handicraft is known for its traditional simplicity. This tribal handicraft originated in Madhya Pradesh. The other states involved in the making of such handicrafts are West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. Dhokra is famous for its unique items portraying folk characters. Dhokra jewellery, candle stands, pen stands, ash trays and varied kinds of showpieces are available at every handicraft shop.

Jute Handicrafts: Jute craftsmen have created a worldwide niche in the field of jute handicrafts. The huge range of jute crafts includes bags, office stationeries, bangles and other jewellery, footwear, wall-hangings and many more. West Bengal, Assam and Bihar, being the leading jute producers, lead the jute handicrafts market in India.

Paper Handicrafts: Vibrant coloured papers are combined together to form varied crafts like kites, masks, decorative flowers, lamp shades, puppets, hand fans etc. Papier Mache, developed in the Mughal Era is even a famous form of paper handicraft in India. This craft industry is mainly located in Delhi, Rajgir, Patna, Gaya, Awadh, Ahmedabad, and Allahabad. Besides that, paper crafters are found on the outskirts of almost every major town.

Rock Handicrafts: Prevalence of rock carving, one of the primitive rock art can be seen in the states of Rajasthan, Jaipur, Odisha and Nagpur. Rajasthan, Jaipur and Madhya Pradesh are famous for marble stone carvings. Green coloured stone art is the specialty of Madhya Pradesh, whereas, Patharkatti is the unique rock craft of Gaya. Age old temples of Odisha are the world famous examples of rock craft in India. Numerous utensils, decorative pieces, stone jewellery and statues are made from rocks.

Shell Handicraft: From time immemorial, shell handicrafts are one of the demandable crafts in India. Shell handicraft can be made out of three types of shells like conch shell, tortoise shell and sea shell. Different kinds of goods like bangles, forks, decorative bowls, lockets, spoons, buttons, curtains, chandeliers, mirror frames, table mats, etc. are the products of shell crafting. Generally, the places located on the sea shore like Gulf of Mannar, Goa, Odisha, etc. are the places for shell handicraft. Silver Filigree or Meenakari or Tarakashi Handicrafts: Silver filigree or Tarakashi is a creative form of handicraft created from the twisted threads of silver or gold. Silver filigree can be of three distinctive types, Meenakari, Khulla Jaal and Flowers and Leaves. The most famous works of silver filigree includes paandans, tea trays, trinket boxes, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other different jewellery. Besides, Cuttack in Odisha, Karimnagar in Telangana is known for its silver filigree work. 

Weaving or Embroidery Handicrafts: Weaving mainly refers to the process of cloth production by two thread sets known as weft and warp crossed with each other. This traditional form of handicraft is mostly found in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Bandhanis, the famous form of weaving, are created in Jamnagar and Rajkot. Bihar and Karnataka are known for their embroidery work. 

Wood Handicrafts: Wood craft is prevalent in India even before the time stone sculpture came into existence. Varied goods are created by the skilled craftsmen by shaping a piece of wood. Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh are known for their unique form of woodwork. Axes, toys, utensils, decorative pieces, jewellery and many more designer household goods like lamp shades, candle stands, vermillion boxes, jewellery boxes, bangle holders etc. are some of the common wood crafts used in almost every Indian house.

Other Kinds of Handicrafts in India

Apart from the ones discussed above, the other handicrafts prevalent in India are:

  • Enamel Handicrafts
  • Glass Handicrafts
  • Kiritams Handicrafts
  • Lac Handicrafts
  • Lace or Zari Handicrafts
  • Leather Handicrafts
  • Marble Handicrafts
  • Metal Handicrafts
  • Painting
  • Stone Handicrafts
  • Tilla jutties

 

Creative Indigo

A society from which beauty is removed becomes brutalized. The human craving for beauty has resulted in amazing forms of aesthetic creativity like architecture, gardens, performing arts, cuisines, sacred rituals, art and crafts. Over centuries, nothing has been able to suppress this urge to create beauty. Crafts are an integral part of this experiential creativity and the conduit for the imagination of forms. It is an extension of the human mind given life through the hand – which results in a physical, scientific, intellectual, emotional, meditative and sacred creation, usually born out of local culture, environment, lifestyle and materials. Craft is utility, decoration, ornamentation, meditation and aesthetics all rolled into one. The human quality of handwork beckons the discerning and sophisticated user of craft products who, by supporting handwork, celebrates its creator and the abstract quality of creativity to adorn, decorate, and use in daily life. You have arrived at an authentic art and craft collective inspired by the elegant and diverse Indian ethos. We feature handcrafted creations by artisans, master crafts persons, craft clusters, Self Help Groups, NGOs, and designers across India. Mahila E Haat celebrates India’s crafts and craftsmanship and positively impacts craft sustainability and livelihoods of artisans and their communities. When you buy from from this site you are part of the economic self reliance of women from all over India. Thank you for being a part of our journey. 

There’s a magnetic lure to an indigo-white creation. 

When creations in indigo and white are a rage, a look at the slow process of using natural, plant-based indigo and its merits over the chemical dye becomes a fascinating topic of interest.

Designers are constantly working on it nationally and globally. The retail players peddle hard-to-resist indigo collections. An outfit is purchased, worn and there’s no dearth of compliments. The magic stays until the fabric is put to wash. Then begin the doubts: The colour runs, and runs some more, with each wash. None of the DIY  Do it Yourself tips help. At times, one doesn’t have to wait till the fabric is washed. 

The bitter truth lies in the retail sector using synthetic, chemical indigo. 

Those who painstakingly work with natural dyes have a difficult time in comparison to the chemical indigo . Due to a lack of knowledge consumers are being taken for a ride . Synthetic indigo, from a chemical source, is less expensive compared to the plant-based one. 

Till recent years Kadapa boasted of a large indigo farm. “A foreigner purchased the farm and the farmer has now turned a realtor."This is the irony of the Indigo.  

A kilo of plant-based indigo, in cake form, costs up to Rs. 2000. 

The most popular source of indigo is from Tamil Nadu. 

The indigo cakes are placed in vats , then are treated with ash water, lime and other ingredients. The liquor is green. “When a fabric is dipped and taken out, it comes in contact with the air and oxidation turns it blue. Hence people call indigo a magic dye. 

Labour-intensive process

"You can end up with blotches of indigo on your back, arms, wherever, if it’s a chemical .From cultivating the crop to extracting colour, it’s a long process. The intensity of the colour on the fabric depends on the number of times it is dipped in the dye. To get a deep hue, a fabric may need to be dipped 15 to 20 times. The way indigo works fills me with wonder even today. A lot of things are at work. When you receive a stock of indigo cakes, it has to be tested for impurities. Imagine working on a fabric with shibori patterns, using the dye and discovering that the colour is mixed with mud in the final stage, but it is known to happen . All craftspeople know & believe that natural colours when duly employed, do not bleed. “The fabric undergoes a few washes at different stages of block printing as well , so bleeding is ever an option . Any excess colour is washed away. A finished product that uses natural colours should not bleed . Allow the colour to dry for two days in warm weather conditions and four to five days in cooler climes.

Indigo can easily be termed as a temperamental colour, It needs to be treated with love & respect during preparation & dying as well . Once treated in this manner it unfolds its intrinsic magic. 

Slow fashion

Natural indigo is used in pockets of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan among weavers and block printers who follow traditional techniques. Two years ago, on a textile trail to Kutch,  meticulous use of indigo vats by the Vankar family of weavers in Bhujodi was witnessed & understood . The ‘how to’ of spinning, weaving and dyeing is passed on from one generation to the next. Block printers in Ajrakhpur and Dhamadka, Kutch, follow a slow process of employing natural dyes. They’ve been at it before terms like sustainable and slow fashion came into vogue. However, many others turned to screen printing and chemical dyes to roll out new collections in a shorter time for better revenues.

Historical connect

Indigo, like all other natural dyes, has been around for eons. The growing interest in indigenous hand-woven fabrics and techniques in recent years has brought indigo to the mainstream. Indigo has an emotional connect to India.

The indigo plant has been an enduring symbol of British exploitation throughout the independence struggle. It had caused the cultivators to protest against the unfair practices of the British Raj. Mahatma Gandhi started his first Satyagraha at Champaran in Bihar against the British policy of Tinkathia system implemented on the indigo cultivators of the region. Champaran then was an important place for indigo cultivation. This later came to be known as the Champaran Satyagraha. 

The Champaran agitation in Bihar and its importance in freedom movement is well recorded. 

Can a buyer tell a fabric that uses natural indigo from a chemical one? “There’s no way of knowing unless the seller spells it out. Fabrics that use natural indigo, owing to its labour intensive process, will not come cheap. A metre of block printed indigo fabric can cost Rs. 650 per metre .Fabrics that use natural indigo, in the right technique, do not bleed. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, houses centuries old kalamkari textiles from India that use madder and indigo. The Indigo-dyed fabrics have many sensitive & knowledgeable takers in Japan and the US. The thirst for purity & authenticity is what will help survive the beauty of natural colours . We in India must continue to play are part in this journey. 

ARTS AND CRAFTS OF NORTHEAST INDIA

Northeast India is the home of a large number of tribes and sub-tribes. They have a vigorous craft tradition and every tribe excels in craftsmanship: this excellence manifests itself in the various products its member’s produces. The main art and crafts of each state of Northeast India are given below:

Arunachal Pradesh (Introduction / Factfile )

Arunachal Pradesh has a vibrant craft tradition and every tribe excels at craftsmanship and their excellence manifests itself in the various products its member’s produces. The ambit of crafts includes- carpet making, masks, painted wood vessels, bamboo and cane crafts, weaving, woodcarvings, jewellery and other miscellaneous crafts. This includes- hand made pottery, brass cutting, silver works etc. they also make numerous articles with goat hair, ivory, boar’s tusks, beads of agate, and other stones as well as of brass and glass.

Assam (Introduction / Factfile )

Assam is predominantly agricultural and her people have excelled in a rich variety of arts and crafts. The panorama encompasses handloom weaving, cane and bamboo works, sitalpith, brass and bell metal works, ivory, wood-work, sholapith, pottery and fiber craft. Handloom weaving comprises the culture of endi, muga and mulberry silk.

Manipur (Introduction / Factfile )

Manipur has contributed to the richness and variety of Indian culture with its peculiar blend of tribal traditions and Vaishnavism. Of the numerous colourful crafts of Manipur, special mention may be made of their textiles, strong bell metal bowls, cane and bamboo and mats made of spongy reeds. Manipur is also well known for its gold and gold plated jewellery- earrings, necklace, armlets and bracelets. Beautiful dolls and toys of straw and clay are also made in Manipur.

Meghalaya (Introduction / Factfile )

Meghalaya is known for various art and crafts. Cane and bamboo holds a prime place. Artistic textile weaving and woodcarving is practiced in Garo hills. Silk weaving of Endi silk is very famous. Carpet weaving, ornaments, musical instruments are other especialities. But the unique craft of this state is Pineapple fiber articles a in which fiber from its leaves is utilized for making various types of nets, bags and purses. Meghalaya is culturally very rich in the area of dance and music. The different types of dances are Nohkjot, Mastieh, Shad wait, Shadynti etc.

Mizoram (Introduction / Factfile )

There are a number of craftsman and skilled artisans among the mizos. Their significant crafts include- weaving, bamboo and cane craft, pipes, jewellery and musical instruments. Weaving is an integral part of Mizo culture. Bamboo and cane works are equally of importance in Mizoram.

Nagaland (Introduction / Factfile )

Nagaland is an important part of the colourful culture if India. The arts and crafts of Nagaland include the weaving, basketry, woodwork and jewellery making etc. The Naga people prepare different products using shell and beads, birds’ wings and flowers. Like weaving, pot making is exclusively a woman’s craft. Nagas make earthen pots by hand without the use of wheel. The Naga people also prepare woodcarvings generally associated with the religious beliefs and practices, apart from preparing objects for daily use like utensils etc. 

Tripura (Introduction / Factfile )

Tripura has a large population of tribals, thus has a tradition of different kinds of crafts. Handloom is the most important craft of the state. The main feature of Tripura handloom is vertical and horizontal stripes with scattered embroidery in different colours.  It is followed by cane and bamboo craft. Popular handicraft items are bamboo screens, lamp stands, tablemats, sitalpati, woodcarving, silver ornaments and other crafts that are practiced. Simplicity is the hallmark of brass and bell metal articles provided in Tripura. 

To understand the craft traditions of north-eastern India, one must know the terrain, its people and their way of life. For in this area, as is in most other parts of India, crafts are not practiced as hobby, nor are they a commercial venture; they are very much an integral part of the life and customs of the people.

THE BACKGROUND

The north-east of India is like a variegated patch-work quilt. A multiplicity of tribes and tribal groups each with its own distinct culture inhabit this region.

Indigenous groups, such as the Kacharis and the Bodos, inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley, were conquered by Ahoms, a Buddhists tribe, in the thirteenth century. Earlier, the Tai-Khamtis, who to this day adhere to their Buddhist faith, came in from the east and settled in what is now the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, the area became the stage for the interplay of varying cultures and religions, the main ones being Hinduism and Buddhism. As a result, a certain commonalty in their cultural patterns also accrued, although many differences persisted.

Handicrafts, one of the threads woven into the tribal fiber of life, also developed certain common characteristics.

A common feature of the entire region is that weaving is practiced alike by all tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and in the valley of Assam. There are only a few exceptions, such as the Nokteys of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh and the Khasis of Meghalaya who do not weave.

ONLY WOMEN WEAVE

It is the women who are the real clothiers of this north-eastern region. Whether it be the Monpas and Sherdukpens of Kameng, the Mishmis and Khamtis of Lohit or the wives of the Wanchoo chieftains of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh, or any of the Naga tribes, or even the Assamese in the plains, it is the women who weave unlike the rest of India, where men predominate the weaving profession. Many of the tribes have a taboo which prohibits weaving by a man who, it is believed, would lose his virility were he to follow this effeminate craft.

DIFFERENT STYLE OF WEAVING

The weaving in the hilly parts of this region differs from other Indian states in that the loin-loom is used here as opposed to the larger fly-shuttle, throw-shuttle and pit-looms used in Assam and in the southern states of India. This loom is also found in Mexico, Peru and Guatemala where it is known as the ‘backstrap Loom’.

LOIN - LOOM A SIMPLE MACHINE

Contrived out of bamboo, the loin-loom is simple, cheap and mobile. The weaver can bask in the sunshine as she weaves or roll up her work and move indoors if threatening clouds darken the horizon. Although the loin-loom is a simple device, the products woven on it vary in texture, color and design. Every tribe has three or more distinctive cloths of its own. An important aspect of the weaving is that the designs are a result of a process of evolution. They are not just something created individualistically by the weaver but have a cultural significance. Every weaver uses this canvas to trace new designs and manifest her creativity keeping in mind the traditional norms. They may be inspired by phenomena of nature: the markings on a snake, the black and white of the human eye, or the design on a butterfly’s wings.

USING COLORS AND DESIGNS

The colors originally used in the traditional tribal cloths were white, black, red and blue. In some cases, the designs are highly sophisticated while others depend on a combination of color for artistic effect although the pattern may consist of a series of parallel lines only. Examples of the latter are provided by the skirts or ‘galles’ of the Adi tribes. While the cerise red galles of the Padams and Minyongs of Siang district are quite stunning with no design other than a border running through the middle of the skirt in fine lines in black, the Galong girls wear white galles with black lines. The effect of the solid monochrome skirts is spectacular when the girls are performing a group dance known as the ‘punong’.

The shawls of the Digaru Mishmi women of Lohit are an example of a very elaborate design in weaving. The warp is black cotton but the designs are woven in maroon red, deep pink, (with a touch of green sometimes), outlined by a silver thread. The main body of the cloth is patterned with geometric designs, the diamond or rhombus being predominant. As the width achieved on the loin-loom is narrow, three strips are woven separately and joined together to obtain the desired width. Worn with matching bodices, very similar to short cholis, silver ornaments in their hair are piled high on the head in chignons. A long silver hair-pin holds the chignon in place and a long silver smoking pipe complements the ensemble.

TRIBAL HERITAGE

In Tirap District of Arunachal, the main tribes are the Nokteys who have no tradition of weaving. But their neighbors, the Wanchoos, who were head-hunters until about four decades ago, carry their memories of head-hunting in their woven artifacts. The wives and daughters of the Chieftains use a miniature loin-loom on which they weave ‘lengtis’ (loin-cloths) for the men and shoulder bags. On a warp of coarse cotton like fiber, designs in vivid red, orange, yellow, outlined with black are woven in. Stylized human figures stand out while there are also geometrical patterns. These designs are also replicated in the beadwork of this tribe, which is quite outstanding.

Besides the Wanchoos, the Singphos, a Buddhist tribe who migrated into Tirap from the northern parts of Burma, are also skilled weavers who continue their traditions of weaving and design, which they had brought with them. This is corroborated by comparing specimens made across the border by the ‘Chingphos’ of Burma.

Quite different in character is the style of weaving practiced by the Apatanis of the Ziro plateau in Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh. While the women folk wear coarse skirts in a natural colored fiber with borders in blue, the jackets for the men are quite fashionable. On a white cotton warp, black designs are woven in wool. After a few inches, an orange thread runs horizontally through the pattern, which is quite striking. The jacket is woven in a straight piece divided into two halves on the loin-loom itself to make the two fronts. The sides are joined together leaving an opening on either side for the armholes. Incidentally, the Mishmi men also have very smart jackets woven in black with the same designs as the women’s shawls and bags-that is diamond patterns in red, pink and silver. Among the Adis, the men wear ‘galuks’ (short coats generally in green cotton or even in blue).

In Kameng district, neighboring Subansiri, the Monpas and Sherdukpens who live on a higher altitude used horses to traverse from one village to another. Now, with the advent of motor transport the horses are mostly found on the deep rose colored shawls woven in endi silk. The Monpas and Sherdukpens are Buddhists and their entire gamut of handicrafts such as the tankha paintings, the wood carvings and wooden artifacts are reminiscent of the repertoire of the Bhutanese, who follow the same techniques and use the same patterns and colors. In fact, Bhutan’s eastern boundary is coterminous with Kameng and it is believed that these designs originated in Bhutan initially. The Monpas and Sherdukpens use shoulder bags extensively and these bags are really masterpieces of the weaver’s art. Very elaborate geometrical patterns are skillfully blended and woven in shades of red, black, green, yellow, orange and white.

These examples are only illustrative of the variety and beauty of the many cloths, which emanate from the loin-looms of Arunachal Pradesh. Old designs, which are hereditary, are incorporated with newer patterns. The aeroplane, for instance, a novel sight in the Arunachal skies a few decades ago, was woven into a Mishmi shoulder bag as a stylized motif.

With deft fingers and an elementary appliance, a woman in North- East weaves magic into her hand-woven textiles.

Northeast India is a dwelling place for innumerable tribes and their sub tribes with many immigrants coming from the neighboring countries and getting settled in this part of the country for the rest of their life. 

A multiplicity of tribes and tribal groups each with its own distinct culture inhabit this region.

Indigenous groups, such as the Kacharis and the Bodos, inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley, were conquered by Ahoms, a Buddhists tribe, in the thirteenth century. Earlier, the Tai-Khamtis, who to this day adhere to their Buddhist faith, came in from the east and settled in what is now the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, the area became the stage for the interplay of varying cultures and religions, the main ones being Hinduism and Buddhism. As a result, a certain commonalty in their cultural patterns also accrued, although many differences persisted.

This has given the Northeast a widely diverse and variegated culture and ethnicity. The Northeast is very much like a fascinating quilt with variegated, enticing patch work. 

To appreciate &understand the craft traditions of north-eastern India, one must therefore know the terrain, its people and their way of life. For in this area, as is in most other parts of India, crafts are not practiced as hobby, nor are they a commercial venture; they are very much an integral part of the life and customs of the people.

Crafts such as weaving practiced by the people of NE too show multiple characteristics and styles specific to a particular tribe of the land. However, there are certain basic characteristics that remain the same all across the region when it comes to weaving which is a craft inseparably assimilated into the life of the Northeasterns.

A common feature of the entire region is that weaving is practiced alike by all tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and in the valley of Assam. There are only a few exceptions, such as the Nokteys of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh and the Khasis of Meghalaya who do not weave.

The ‘seven sisters’ states of the Northeast; namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura follow a quite distinctweaving style. The kind of loom used in NE India, especially in the hilly regions, is the ‘loin loom’ which is quite different from the other loom types used in the other parts of India such as pit looms, throw-shuttle and fly-shuttle looms. The use of loin loom imparts Northeast Indian weaving a distinct character, style and look. Loin loom is also used in many other parts of the world such as Guetemala, Mexico and Peru.

It is the women who are the real clothiers of this north-eastern region. Whether it be the Monpas and Sherdukpens of Kameng, the Mishmis and Khamtis of Lohit or the wives of the Wanchoo chieftains of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh, or any of the Naga tribes, or even the Assamese in the plains, it is the women who weave unlike the rest of India, where men predominate the weaving profession. Many of the tribes have a taboo which prohibits weaving by a man who, it is believed, would lose his virility were he to follow this effeminate craft.

The colors originally used in the traditional tribal cloths were white, black, red and blue. In some cases, the designs are highly sophisticated while others depend on a combination of color for artistic effect although the pattern may consist of a series of parallel lines only. Examples of the latter are provided by the skirts or ‘galles’ of the Adi tribes. While the cerise red galles of the Padams and Minyongs of Siang district are quite stunning with no design other than a border running through the middle of the skirt in fine lines in black, the Galong girls wear white galles with black lines. The effect of the solid monochrome skirts is spectacular when the girls are performing a group dance known as the ‘punong’.

The shawls of the Digaru Mishmi women of Lohit are an example of a very elaborate design in weaving. The warp is black cotton but the designs are woven in maroon red, deep pink, (with a touch of green sometimes), outlined by a silver thread. The main body of the cloth is patterned with geometric designs, the diamond or rhombus being predominant. As the width achieved on the loin-loom is narrow, three strips are woven separately and joined together to obtain the desired width. Worn with matching bodices, very similar to short cholis, silver ornaments in their hair are piled high on the head in chignons. A long silver hair-pin holds the chignon in place and a long silver smoking pipe complements the ensemble.

Each tribe of Northeast India excels in the craft of weaving and their excellence gets a charming, exquisite expression through the many woven products produced by the members of a tribe. In fact the craft of weaving has played a predominant role in shaping the economic as well as social life of people of India all through the ages. With the advent of modernity, the indigenous crafts like weaving have gradually faded in to the background while other more advanced and technology based crafts like printing, graphic designing etc have come to the fore. However, one part of the country which is still quite untouched by the vagaries of modernity is Northeast India and that explains why weaving enjoys a remarkable, continued existence till date in the land of Northeast India. 

 

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