Shiawase is a Japanese word for happiness or good fortune. Japanese say this word with much enthusiasm when expressing it as a blessing! I hum few lines of a Japanese song, “nantonaku… nantonaku… Shiwase”. It a cheerful song that somehow expresses “happiness for no particular reason” kind of feeling. That unintended yet very alive feeling of happiness! “Just like that happiness”!
When Tai Khampti weavers agreed to weave with cotton yarn instead of easily available synthetic yarns, my heart felt Shiwase!
In 2013, we brought about 500 kgs of cotton yarn to Arunachal Pradesh and took it as a drive to sensitise weavers towards using cotton over synthetic yarns for the indigenous weaves. Amlavati has championed the work we carried out with Tai Khampti weavers for more years than I could ever imagine. She began engaging untrained weavers, single mothers, and older women to weave plain, checks and striped fabrics. Such textiles are easily available at a very low cost in mainland India. Thereby, economically it was not a great decision. But at a deeper level, it brought wealth to a lot of homes in her neighbourhood. Rather than buying plain handloom fabrics from mainland, we began creating livelihood opportunities by weaving less intricate weaves as a medium of training new weavers and convenient income for trained ones. Some weavers took their payments part in money and part in yarn. They expressed wish to wear cotton themselves. This was the high point of this cotton drive with Tai Khampti tribe.
The boota or flower motif, and all other textiles in this sari are woven by Tai Khampti community. The softness of the cotton weave gave me inspiration to retain the softness in the combination of colours as well.