Designers fan out to collect textile traditions- National Institute of Design embarks on project to preserve the rich handloom heritage of the region
Guwahati, Oct. 16: The secrets behind the intricate designs and rich colours of the Northeast’s traditional garments are being documented and preserved for posterity by the National Institute of Design.
As part of this exercise, 15 designers from the Ahmedabad-based institute are travelling to various parts of Assam and meeting members of various indigenous communities to gather details about their handloom traditions.
Aarti Srivastava, an NID faculty member who is in charge of the project, told The Telegraph, “With changing times, many of the textile traditions of local communities are getting extinct. In many places, communities have stopped weaving. Synthetic yarn is now coming into use. This is an effort to document the traditions and is being done for the first time.”
She said they were making an effort under the project to get the original textiles, as otherwise, they would get lost in no time under the impact of modernisation.
Fieldwork for the project in Assam started in the last week of September and will end by next month.
The state is being divided into five areas and researchers have been allotted the work.
The plan is to build contacts with weavers, spinners, cultivators, textile collectors, royal families and all others who would provide vital insights about the textile traditions of the communities of Assam.
For the project, the institute is collaborating with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) — an autonomous institution established in 1987 under the ministry of culture as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts.
Handloom weaving is a part and parcel of life in Assam. In earlier days, the women of a family produced most of the clothes required by the family at home.
Srivastava said many of the textiles had a cultural context and the study was also looking at this aspect and added that both traditional and modern textiles were being collected.
She said Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland had already been covered under the project and good textile samples had been procured. “It has been an interesting experience, as each state has unique textiles and traditions to offer,” the NID faculty member said.
She said they had made requests to various communities to give away samples of the textiles.
According to IGNCA, the colours and designs of textiles had their symbolic meaning among some of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and the use of certain kinds of clothes and ornaments was often associated with a family’s social position and achievements in the fields of hospitality and war. For instance, while the Adis concentrated on simple lines and Apatanis concentrated on simple designs and simple straight lines, Mishmi weaving was more elaborate.