Handloom Heritage Tales

It is natural for Indian Fashion Designers to use Cotton and Silk in abundance, as India is the second largest producer of Silk and third largest producer of Cotton.

Few Indian designers are bringing back the humble Khadi and handloom fabrics, which not only carry the aesthetic sense of a particular area but also signifies its local employment.

Suchitra Mohanta

ABSIndia is known for its majestic heritages, rich culture, fine traditions, what else you ask? Well, it homes a plethora of handlooms, weaves, and handicrafts.

In this fast-track age, where every trend is volatile – there is a constant fear of some trend replacing other. However, most of the handloom fabrics are such assets which have succeeded to survive and thrive, if not all. The specialty that they own has a different meaning and aesthetics altogether – how can machined fabric replace a fabric that has been woven carefully and put together by human hands. Read along to know about the lesser known handloom heritage of the seven sister states and bring the by-gone traditions back in our minds –

*Tripura: PACHRA
A handloom fabric from the state of Tripura, Pachra is essentially a long piece of cloth worn as a lower garment by the women of the region. Extending just below the knee, the Pachra features intricate stripes and embroidery in different colors. The Pachra garment is usually worn with a ‘risa’, a short cloth that covers the upper half of the body.

*Nagaland: NAGA SHAWLS
Weaving is the traditional occupation and art of the people in Nagaland. Primarily made of red and black wool, Naga Shawls are made by several tribes in the region. Every major tribe has its own distinct shawl pattern and some warrior shawls even feature figures of tiger, elephant, human head, cock, and spear.

*Mizoram: PUANS
The traditional attire of Mizoram, Puan (Loin Cloth) is essentially a wrap-around skirt with few colors and the prominent presence of black and white. Designs on this fabric range from simple to intricate depending on the wearer and the type of Puan could reveal a person’s status in the society.ABS

*Meghalaya: ERI SILK
A highly textured silk from the North East, Eri and Endi silk has shorter fibers than other silk varieties and must be handled with care. While its naturally dull gold sheen makes it a coveted fabric in the world of fashion, it is also used for Pattachitra art and Kantha embroidery.

*Manipur: PHANEK
The traditional Manipuri costume, Phanek refers to the color block striped skirt that is hand-woven from cotton and silk thread. Worn by the women in the region, the Phanek is very similar to a wrap-around skirt and usually features a heavy embroidered border at the bottom. It is usually worn as a mini saree with a blouse and an upper cloth.

Produced only in Assam, Muga Silk is known for its fine texture and durable nature. Known as “the golden fiber” this hand washable silk has a naturally yellow gold tint and its luster increases with every wash. Once reserved for the use of royalty, it is now used to make the traditional garment of Assamese women, the ‘mekhela chador’.

*Arunachal Pradesh: APATANI
The Apatani weave comes from the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The weaving techniques of this tribes are considerably more advanced than the rest of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. The Apatani woven fabric is known for geometric patterns, mainly angular designs, and zigzag patterns. It forms an essential part of the daily wardrobe of the people.

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