Saturday, August 20, 2011


Kigwema village, Nagaland

Loin loom weaving (Ms. Akang Thuimai, Loin weaver, Dimapur)
Nagaland has large number of tribes and each tribe and their sub tribes had their unique identity expressed through their textiles, basketry, pottery, ornaments etc. Traditional Naga textiles are woven in back strap loom which is called loin loom. The loin loom is one of the oldest devices used for weaving textiles. This kind of loom is not only found in Nagaland but also found in other parts of Northeast region of India, and its neighbouring countries like China, Bhutan, Myanmar and which also extends to Southeast Asian countries. Weaving is only carried out by womenfolk in the entire region of Northeast India. Loin loom produces only narrow strips of cloth and therefore to achieve a bigger width of fabric they usually join these strips by hand stitching. The loin loom fabrics are highly dense fabric as warp ends on the loom lie very close to each other as there is no reed on the loom to separate the warp ends from each other. This makes the woven fabric warp faced fabric. The warp faced fabric is also woven tightly which makes the fabric more durable than mill made or handloom fabrics. Usually a loin loom fabric takes longer time to weave as it is woven manually.
Loin loom weaving in the Northeast region of India has lot of potentials in terms of empowering women by generating employment for them and also keeping the tradition alive through this practice. Therefore the project did not only have the scope to create new things on this loom for the modern market but also to understand loin loom’s possibilities, the need of the local weavers and their problems. As designers we could come up with solutions to their problems and also help to bridge the gap between them and the market so that it benefits the two parties (the weavers and the company).
Heirloom Naga is a decentralized firm which works with local loin loom weavers in Nagaland. It is started by Jesmina Zeliang in Nagaland, Dimapur. The company works with the cluster of Zeliang weavers (belongs to Zeliang tribe) in and around Dimapur. The weavers work at their homes and deliver the woven samples to the firm.
The objective of the project was to develop new surface design for their existing products range as well as to introduce and develop techniques to diversify the product range, to keep the clients interested through constant innovation. The project gave a free platform to explore and study the market and to understand the need of market. New techniques regarding weaving techniques were explored which lead to modification in the existing methods for new surface development for the existing products. Project brief given by the company was to develop a range of affordable loin loom products i.e. cushions and runners and also to develop a block print collection based on Naga paintings, tattoos, wooden carvings etc. My brief also included a detailed study of the loin loom weavers working here, textiles, their culture, place and environment. This not only helped me to understand and appreciate the working mechanism of the loom and its creations, but also educates me about the problems faced by the loin loom weavers while weaving on this loom. I could easily relate with them and help them to come up with simple weaving techniques or solutions for them.  (few designs uploaded)  (few designs uploaded)
Loin cushion covers
Naga block  print
While designing above all the collections there was always constant check on costing so that it is affordable to the masses. And also to innovate unique techniques to simplify the labour effort yet develop a rich looking surface. Most of the developed surface designs were inspired from studying the local textiles and techniques of the place.
All the developed collections on loin loom and block print collections were also exhibited in the Indian handicrafts and gift fair, 2008-09 at Noida and Tex-styles fair 2009, Pragati maiden, New Delhi. Taking part in these exhibitions gave me clear insights about my work, the world market and their trends.

Friday, October 1, 2010

INSIGHTS ON IDU MISHMI TEXTILES (craft documentation on Idu Mishmi textiles 2007, NID, Ahmadabad )

Idu Mishmi textiles hold a distinct place in the art and culture of Arunachal Pradesh. Unfortunately, onslaught of industrialization and modernization has put its existence and development under constant threat.Weaving among Idus is no longer a need. It has become more of a symbol of identity. Factors like easy availability and cheaper goods (clothes, mill made fabrics) in the market, more number of occupation options, influence of media on dressing style etc have diminished the significance of traditional weaving amongst Idus.Very few Idu women today are involved in traditional weaving activity. This group basically belongs to low income earning strata of the Idu society and practices weaving in order to support their family income. There are also few educated women who are engaged in production and sale of traditional woven goods (It was always meant to be bartered!). The works of these groups have shown great change in use of material in terms of yarns. They use more of synthetic yarn like acrylic yarn, because it is easy availability, sturdiness and colour fastness. Due to efforts of some organizations and individuals an interesting blend of tradition and modern has emerged and this certainly has contributed to the continuity of the tradition.And as the truth lies that, no culture is static but is alive and undergoes changes and evolution. So there still remains a huge scope and task to be done in innovating and adapting the Idu traditional art and weaving to the modern milieu.As a designer we could bridge the gap between traditional aesthetic with the modern aesthetic without diluting the strength of the tradition. By educating the weavers about the fashion trends and how they can be adapted to the tradition. And also making them aware of availability of loans from various organizations like banks and non-government organizations for starting a micro enterprises. We can bring awareness of the importance of promotions of their products and their art to the urban city dwellers and other town dwellers, so that they can appreciate their work. Encouraging the weavers and local entrepreneurs to use more of natural fibres and different counts of them, to achieve different weight of fabrics. This could invoke new ideas of using them. As a designer we could come up with various ranges of products and ideas for the craftsmen other than their ones, so that they could walk hand in hand with the global market.