Working with Adi tribe was a matter of pure serendipity. It started as a chance encounter while passing from Pasighat to reach Roing. We had borrowed an old beaten down car from a friend to carry out cotton awareness drive in Arunachal Pradesh so weavers could feel encouraged to weave with natural yarns instead of synthetic ones. When we were just about to reach Pasighat, the car broke down with no hope to get spares parts or repair. I landed up staying in Pasighat for about a month where this amazing woman called Komyir Jamoh gathered many weavers in the neighbourhood from Adi Minyong, Adi Galo and Adi Padam communities to participate in cotton weaving design workshop.
Over days, Oboti Jamoh, Oity Megu, Tumrik Ete, Mumsi Tayeng, Osiri Tasung, Asahor Tayeng and Lucky Tayeng along with Komyir Jamoh and myself sat huddled together understanding what we could craft with the indigenous weaves of their community. Without cutting the designs for garment making, what could be the right homage to the ancestral weaves as product design? We ideated together and they suggested since there are two panels joined to make a single Gale, so why don’t we turn the single panel into a narrow shawl/ panel. These could be used as shawls or panels in Saris. I resonated with their idea. We further explored ideas on how to use “pore”- motif based panels in the weave.
Right after, each one went to the boot of the car that was overflowing with cotton yarn in 2/40 and 2/60 count. They chose their colours and they chose what they would make with it. Hundreds of hanks were picked in total. Over the next few years, under the supervision of Komyir, the weaves kept reaching Punjab in Komyir’s neatly compiled parcels. Because of encouraging remuneration, the work continued till the yarn was over without any obstruction. The supervision was also given regular honorarium towards her dedicated effort.
I use these weaves from time to time with the purpose of getting an opportunity to talk about these wonderful communities and their rich ancestry. Textiles is a medium to express. Bringing homage to their indigenous roots is the intention expressed through these textiles. The vision is to do design workshops with the youth of the community towards enabling them for craft based entrepreneurship.
Adi Minyong weaves are paid homage through the canvas of handspun natural dyes Eri silk made in Assam. For the base, soft gentle cotton based weave with self texture is identified to highlight tones of green in the weaves. At the Pallu, back strap loom woven triangle/ hill motifs panel is added. These motifs are woven by weavers of Nagaland. It is a generational heirloom to remember the roots of the indigenous communities who are the makers of the weaves of this textile.