Nam is Tai Khampti word for water.
The weaves of the drape and pallu of this Sari are made by Tai Khampti weavers on the land where Tai Khampti people reside, Namsai, Chowkham and surrounding villages in Arunachal Pradesh. They are supervised and made with consent by local artisans and their families, providing livelihood to women in the district.
This Sari was made as part of an initiative that has lasted more than 5 years, where about 30 women earned livelihood under the leadership of Nang Amlavati. These weaves are not bought but commissioned work woven with cotton brought from Salem, Tamil Nadu in order to encourage use of cotton over synthetic yarns.
In 2012-13, 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 their indigenous weaves. Amla has championed the work we carried out with Tai Khampti weavers and began engaging untrained weavers, single mothers, and older women to engage in weaving intricate motifs, plain, checks and striped fabrics.
I have a clear memory of a walk in the lanes of Namsai. The mud roads and bamboo homes on both sides. I walked steadily with Amla while she was making me peep into each house. At a small strech of about 200 metres, each house on both sides of the road had a loom, and each loom had this cotton being woven. Many weavers were weaving at that very moment and sound still reverberates in my ears. That “thik thak thik thak thik thak”. That was a walk of what potentialities come alive with courage.
Such textiles are not just weaves intertwined. Such textiles are many years woven in the pattern of life bringing together the land, the soil, the festivals, the people, their culture, their prayers, our collective ups and downs.
Tai Khampti women are addressed with the prefix Nang.
Tai Khampti men are addressed with the prefix Chau/ Chow.