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Learn cotton and silk weaving at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)
Learn cotton and silk weaving at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)

The warp and weft of N-E

An exhibition that celebrates the textile traditions of four North-Eastern states comes to Delhi

In 2010, the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, started a project to study and document the textile practices of communities in the North-East. The effort has culminated in Threads of Change: Textile Cultures of North East India, an exhibition that features traditional fabrics and garments from four states—Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Delhi, which had commissioned the project, has co-organized the exhibition that started on Tuesday. This is the first phase of the exhibition; the dates for the second phase, which will feature textile traditions from Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Sikkim, are yet to be announced.

“Each community or tribe has its own unique identity," says NID project head Romanie Jaitly, referring to the weaves and garments of the North-East. The Assam exhibition area has on display mekhala chaddar, a silk garment worn by women, and gamosa, a white cotton rectangular cloth with red embroidered borders used as a towel. The Arunachal Pradesh stall has kholo, a braided yak-hair belt made by the Brokpa communityand used as a neck strap for calves. A prominent feature of the Nagaland stall is nyeko, a shawl worn by Konyak women, which shows the influence of Christianity and has motifs inspired by tombstone designs. The Meghalaya corner has the Biate tribe’s puanpuii,a cotton tufted blanket woven on backstrap looms.

For those keen on learning weaving and beadwork, there is a demonstration area in the exhibition hall. Every day artisans from tribal communities, such as the Konyak and Chakhesang communities, will showcase their craft using the loin loom, beads and eri silk.

You can also buy mekhala chaddars, gamosas, eri silk shawls, beaded jewellery and belts, bamboo mats and bags. Outside the exhibition area, a few café stalls have been set up to serve North-Eastern food, including pork, rice and momos.

Threads of Change: Textile Cultures of North East India, 10.30am-6pm, is on till 21 January at the Exhibition Hall, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 11, Man Singh Road, Delhi (23383590). Prices of products range from 80-25,000.

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