Weaves of Dimasa community | kantha stitch

I met Aitryee for the first time in 2010 at Haflong metre gauge train station. Pratibha from Kokrajhar had connected me to her. Aitryee and I found friendship in each other soon after we met. While we indulged in non-stop laughters, we also spent many years working together on Dimasa weaves.

I started bringing cotton yarn to Haflong and encouraged weavers to weave using cotton instead of synthetic yarns. Aitryee championed the work we carried out with Dimasa weavers for more years than I could ever imagine. She involved some good weavers like Molina, Abila didi and Doley didi to weave with cotton. We women sat together, understanding the technique of weaving involved in certain motifs, their significance and how we could work out their dimensions. We spoke about how we could integrate the weaves into dupattas, shawls, saris and borders. All these weaves were from imagination of the weavers, their authentic weaving motifs and skill translated as their individual expression. Over years, they became more familiar with weaving with cotton. Many hundreds of kilos of cotton hanks have been brought here and Aitryee’s dedicated efforts brought Dimasa weaves as one of the highlights in all our work since 2010. Because of encouraging remuneration, our work continued for many years without obstacle. My focus in other regions and lockdown has brought a small glitch of travel to Haflong.

I long to go back to Haflong and share moments of creative interactions with Aitryee and the weavers again. Molina always took the weaving ideas a step higher with her very fine weaving skills. I always waited to get a call from Aitryee saying Molina has finished her weave and is ready to start the next! The happy anxious energy I feel every time Molina makes a weave, reveals to me the respect I have for young women who engage deeply in their indigenous craft. They are in tune with their feminine force. And to be in the presence of such feminine energy has been the most enriching aspect of this journey.

I call this Sari Aitryee because she is one fine woman. She is one fine human. She is one fine daughter, sister and a friend. She taught me that the traditional loom is called Daophang. And also translated stories of the ancient oral belief that Daophang existed at the beginning of universe. I also read that, among the gods and goddesses, the weaving existed long before there was air or sound. When there was nothing but silence and water, where under a large banyan tree, Goddess mother was found weaving. Aitryee also shared that Dimasa people have many songs that narrate the significance of weaving, and encourage youngsters to become self sufficient by training themselves in crafts like weaving, bamboo baskets and making houses.

Dimasa weavers take much pride in their weaving skills and there is a specific term for expert or master weavers, ‘Daokrigdi’.

Thank you Aitryee for building beautiful bridges to knowledge, skill, collaboration and preservation of your indigenous knowledge.

Thank you Aitryee for your story telling and friendship!

In this Sari, on light cotton sit the gentle weaves from Dimasa community. In the drape, delicate kantha embroidery stitch runs in parallel lines of purple, blending the purpleness of the border to the green of the core. Such Saris are not Saris, they are a bag full of experiences, laughters, stories, memories, skill, exchange of techniques, thinking and imagining together.

Blouse fabric

Buyer Empowerments

Involves Indigenous weaving techniques of Dimasa tribe of Assam. Also involves kantha embroidery stitch.
To bring in various weaves, textures, stitching style together into a light textile holding a woven border was a challenging feat yet extremely rewarding. When we put the final stroke of kantha stitch which my mother did herself, we said its done now!
Weather/ Mood
Pleasant- okay for summers to nippy evenings
Not fragile
Dry Clean only; Needs “Airing” in shadow, not direct sun. Do not wring.
Sari is ready to wear. All saris come with blouse fabric(s). No fall/ beading required. The blouse used in photoshoot is for representation only and may not be the same blouse available with the sari. The blouse fabric given with the sari will be more in alignment with the aesthetics intended.
Dimasa weaves woven with mercerised azo-free dyed yarn. The dye source of other handloom cotton unknown.
Statement piece, celebratory, vibrant, traditional translated to modern
In solidarity with indigenous community, Dimasa.
Supports non-industrial tailoring skills.
Design collaboration with artisans.
Slow production of indigenous weaves that are made by artisan at home in available time- supporting farming lifestyle.
Working closely with mothers, creating livelihood for stay at home mothers.
Choice of cotton over synthetic yarn for indigenous weaves.
Dimasa weaves woven with supervision from Aitryee, Assam.
Cotton from Salem, Tamil Nadu.
Kantha embroidery stitch by Madhu Mittal.
Stitching by Gurmel Singh, Jalalabad, Punjab.
Beadwork by Param, Bathinda, Punjab.
Imperfections in the weaves reflect handmade
Irregularity in the dyes reflect natural process
Innocent spots in the textiles reflect being homemade
A work of nature cannot be sterile and error-free
A choice to still buy what we make is a step
Towards supporting original culture
Of people
Of nature
Of craft

A celebration of humanness.
Mora Collective 2024
designed by: MIDTOAN