Thebvo-ra (stinging nettle shawl)
of Kuzhami with weaves of Nagaland
Spoken for
Diyogi of Navajo
Mapuche of Chile
Nguba of Ndebele
Kente from Akan of Ghana
Tsüngkotepsü of Ao
Korowai of Maori
Thebvora of Kuzhami
The ancient textiles.

This ancient textile Thebvora is from a remote tribe of Nagaland called Kuzhami. They are Kheza speaking community. Three main villages Leshemi, Zapami and Lasumi engage in making Thebvo. A couple of other villages also make Thebvo but only as need arises. The culture of making Thebvora, a shawl made with stinging nettle plant has lasted hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years.

Thebvora is in the folk tales and folk songs of Kuzhami people. The presence of Thebvo plants determined the migration routes for this tribe in their history. Thebvo, the plant grows in sun shadowed hills of these Patkai hills. Kuzhami people still forage the plant from the jungles and each year, whether or not they collect Thebvo stems for making fibre, they go to the jungle to cut the plant and spread the seeds in the jungle. This is considered beneficial for the fertility and health of the forest.

It is then no surprise that Thebvo still exists, though the world around has changed so drastically. It exists in the hands of a handful of grandmothers. Few of them who were in their late 80’s have already passed away. The others are now training few younger women with Thebvo Project. Like this, perhaps there is hope that this ancient textile will survive.

In this shawl, I decided to weave cotton with Thebvo. The black and red parts have used cotton in the warp and Thebvo in the weft. The result is a beautiful texture of natural colour of Thebvo peeping through the blacks and red. To accentuate the natural colour of Thebvo warp, I gave side panels of Thebvo that are woven on traditional back strap loom of Kuzhami people.

This is made as my imagination of a chieftain’s shawl. Not for the faint hearted. Not for the frail bodied. Not for the wavering minded. Not for the ones with changing loyalties. This shawl could last a lifetime. Or rather, this shawl is made to outlast a lifetime and be passed on as a generational heritage. A mark of internal virtues. A mark of the honour like that of a chieftain. The chieftain’s honour is in the virtues and how he/she upholds them. It is in his/her compassion for the other, and the ability to hold his/her own ones together.

The Chieftain’s hold substance. Substance of choices. Substantial in its presence. Substantial in its absence.
For voice of Thebvo makers and community please see blog. The proceeds from this textile are intended towards Thebvo project "artisans at ease".

Buyer Empowerments

Wearable textile made with ancient spinning, weaving and dyeing techniques, that are slowly being abandoned in modern context. Hope of rejuvenation that a textile that has lasted the test of thousand of years, can still enthral the makers and wearer’s senses.
One of a kind wearable heirloom that highlights indigenous technique of making textiles out of stinging nettle. Traditional motifs woven on back strap loom.
Weather/ Mood
Pleasant-not warm not cold. More fit for cool to cold days.
Sturdy, long-lasting- “lifelong” in their words, making it a generational heirloom. Texture will grow with time.
Okay to hand-wash. No dry clean needed. “Made to not be fragile”. Care-free. Seasonal “Airing” in shadow, not direct sun.
Ready to wear
Natural, organic, hand-made, from nature-back to nature. Something to grow old with and then pass it on to loved ones. The ruggedness will grow gentle with time.
Made in rural household. Weaves made by artisan at home in available time- supporting farming lifestyle. Direct connect with artisan. Reverse pyramid model- Fair benefit to all makers and facilitators. No bargaining with artisans. Mutual decision-making. No deadline/ pressure based work environment made with need-greed, human-nature balance.Made with intentional non-injury. Slow production- slow movement product.
Made less, made ethically.
The cotton is mercerised machine spun yarn.
Grounding, Substantial, grand
Well-being Properties
Thermal insulation, Moisture absorption, UV protective, Climate conscious
This Thebvo is made by Indigenous Kuzhami community with assistance of Thebvo project est 2014, Nagaland.
Cotton sourced from Salem, Tamil Nadu.
Stitching by Gurmel Singh, Jalalabad, Punjab.
Hand stitching of edges by Madhu Mittal, Punjab.
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