Wangham

MR21087
Indigenous Wancho weaves | hand spun natural dyed Eri Silk | Asymmetrical patchwork

Wancho indigenous community of Londing district of Arunachal Pradesh is akin to Konyak tribe of Nagaland in their culture and ethnicity. While living with Wancho tribe, I saw their proximity with both Myanmar and Nagaland. I also experienced the ancient culture of body tattooing where each tattoo is marked on a specific part of the body when the person reaches certain age. These tattoos symbolise when the body must get ready to build strength of a certain region of the body. Nestled around the Patkai hills, many people of this tribe still follow their indigenous faith, polygamy and chieftain’s governance.

When I saw the Wancho weavers making those beautiful intricate weaves with synthetic yarns, my heart sank with disappointment. So, I decided to come back to this place with cotton yarn, a promise that took more than a year to fulfil. Once I got cotton from Tamil Nadu, I knew it was not going to be easy to carry it to Longding. Also, it wont be easy to convince weavers to work with cotton who have now become used to weaving with synthetic yarn elasticity.

To my surprise, with the dedicated persuasion by Tongam Wangham, weavers soon took on the task of weaving Wancho motifs using cotton yarn, with the agency of their own creative liberty. The first weavers to step forward were Dilgham and Wanu. They explained to me the variations that will appear when we use finer count of cotton yarn for Wancho weaves. We derived various combinations of how border motifs could be integrated into a product design without cutting the weaves into a garment or accessory. We settled on narrow shawl/ panel form which could be incorporated in many ways as shawls, saris or wall art. As part of our collaborative design training,  I told them my repeated words,

“You choose the motifs, you draw the patterns, you weave what your heart cherishes, you take your own time.”

I finally got to see the weaves after more than two years during my next trip to the region. Those moments are unforgettable when the weave is handed over hesitatingly by the weaver and the subsequent joy that is unanimously expressed between us. This shared moment makes each of these weaves an unforgettable memory. In the memory they become heirlooms.

They are heirlooms indeed! For they have lasted the test of time! For they are still alive and thriving and may continue for many generations if each one of us begin to visualise their longevity!

The weave in this shawl is made through dedicated effort of Tongham Wangham so I decided to name this Sari after his name. His name suggests he hails from the chief/ king’s  lineage carrying the entitlement to add “Wangham” to his name.



This Sari is a homage to the rich ancestry of Wancho tribe and a collaborative design product made with the weavers of the community using cotton. The weave motifs are compiled and chosen totally by the weaver herself with zero input from me. She chose the cotton yarn hanks in diverse colours from the bundles I cried with me during the cotton drive in Arunachal Pradesh and sent me these weaves through Tongam after about two years.

To celebrate the intricate nature of Wancho weaving motifs, handspun, Indigo dyed Eri silk is chosen as a canvas. A labour intensive patchwork of asymmetrical dimensions is crafted to highlight the central motif of the weave.

Blouse fabric

Buyer Empowerments

Eri silk aspect of sari
Intrinsic
Value
Wearable textile made with ancient spinning, weaving and dyeing techniques. Home- reared, Hand spun, hand woven following indigenous methodology.
Soul
100 % natural, Protein- based, organic, hand-made, from nature-back to nature. Something to grow old with and then pass it on to loved ones.
Wancho weaves aspect of sari
Intrinsic
Value
Indigenous textiles of Arunachal Pradesh that involves traditional handloom weaving.
Soul
Mill spun mercerised cotton yarn with Azo-free dyeing
The combined aspects of the sari
Creative
Aspect
One of a kind heirloom textile that brings together Wancho tribe weaving motifs with Eri Silk with asymmetrical patchwork of Eri silk and Cotton woven by Tai kampti weavers. I wanted to create a borderless mood in the Sari while also keeping the gravity of fall/ edging. This allowed me to experiment new way of looking at patchwork Saris.
Heft-Feel
Moderate
Weather/ Mood
Pleasant-not warm not cold. Should give warmth on a slightly nippy evening. Should also protect from blazing Sun.
Longevity
Not fragile. Eri Silk can last a decade or two if well looked after. Wancho weaves are made to “last a lifetime” in their words.
Care
Dry Clean only; Needs “Airing” in shadow, not direct sun. Do not wring. Occasional starch with uplift the drape. Be careful to not pull the yarn of weaves if ever they get entangled.
State
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.
Drape
Heirloom
Concerns
Addressed
Made in rural household. Weaves made by artisan at home in available time- supporting farming lifestyle. In support of slow movement In support of indigenous knowledge of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam No bargaining with artisans. Collaborative design and mutual decision-making. No deadline/ pressure based work environment. In support of natural dyeing through locally available resources In solidarity with backstrap loom weaving Supports non- industrial tailoring skills. Faith in up-skilling unskilled artisans.
Wancho weaves made with Tongham Wangham, Arunachal Pradesh.
Wancho weavers involved in the weaving project: Dilgham and Wanu.
Eri silk handspun, hand woven with supervision from Narmohan Das.
Cotton yarn for Wancho weaves from Salem, Tamil Nadu.
Plain cotton weaves woven with supervision from Nang Amlavati, Arunachal Pradesh.
Stitched by Gurmel Singh, Jalalabad, Punjab.
Beadwork by Param, Bathinda, Punjab.
Disclaimer:
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
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