I dedicate this bog to all the weavers and craftsmen of Northeast region of India.....
Saturday, August 20, 2011
My Diploma project NID 2009: REVIVING THE TRADITION OF NAGA WEAVING AND ART
100 years ago, skills of spinning, dyeing and weaving were known to most women in Nagaland. Textiles were integral to their life and held in high esteem in their society. The introduction of mill made yarns in the region had resulted in wiping out the laborious process of spinning, dyeing and other factors like education, conversion to Christianity and availability of readymade clothes had also resulted in this practice dying out. Today most of the young generations are opting for professions like doctor, engineers etc. which are considered more high profile job with security in the society which has lead to a decline in the practice of traditional skills.
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.
The project involved me in all areas of design, material understanding, cost consideration, product viability and resource utilization, and identifying people for their skills as well as services and also providing employment to many. The main objective of the project was to sustain the loin loom weaving practices throughout the region by constantly evolving new ideas for loin loom products which have their own identity in the modern context and which are done with the knowledge of the craft which is their culture.
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