Drape to Pallu is an intricate extension of kes motif woven by Tai khampti weavers.
To give homage to these beautiful weaves, I extended the canvas to the Sari form using Myrobalan dyed handspun handwoven Eri Silk along with patches of Malkha.
Living with Tai Khampti families in Namsai and Chowkham and the surrounding villages brought a closer insight into the modern lifestyle of this community. Their traditional homes made on bamboo stilts stand in stark contrast to the modern concrete houses. Following a strict Buddhist lineage of Hinayana, this community celebrates festivals following the strict Buddhist tradition. I have had the fortune of spending three Sangken festival together with the community. In the plains of this river touching district, the month of April begins to get warm.
Between 12th to 16th April each year, Sangken is celebrated where the families come to visit Chong and other sacred spaces and perform some necessary rituals of cleansing the Buddha idols as a mark of beginning the new year. After that, they engage in a playful event of splashing pure clean water on each other to symbolise cleansing. Sangken is akin to how in mainland India Holi is played but the water is kept clean and pious. No colours added. During Sangken it is rare to see anyone not drenched head to toe in water.
The sentiment of having fun while retaining the tradition of cleansing for the new year moves together simultaneously, and reveals the richness of Tai Khampti culture. I thought I would name this Sari Sangken, after the name of this festival. This may perhaps encourage someone to look up this beautiful tribe. While the finer nuances of this community can only be experienced through direct experience, when searching the term Sangken, some research will definitely show up to lead you to know more about them.
Aunty Nang Dharmavati- my friend Kemsting’s mother, other friends from this district, along with Nang Amlavati and Suktana Engling have given me a hospitable glimpse into their culture. These weaves are made by Tai Khampti weavers on the land where Tai Khampti people reside, supervised and 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.