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Will our textiles outlive us to tell our history ?

Posted On: July 27th, 2017 09:30 AM, IST By Super User
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Idu Mishmi woven items are today some of the most popular textiles among Arunachali women. This legacy has been transferred through the ages from our great grandmothers who have generally contributed to the unique art. Until recently, the art of making yarn from barks and extracting colours from plants was much prevalent. Presently, as yarn in desired colours are available abundant in the market, the art of making yarn and dyes is virtually lost.

Not only the Idu women, but other local communities and tourists also get attracted towards the unique and intricate designs of wrap-arounds and bags in bright colours. Because of their popularity, other communities have very dextrously learned the patterns and are making them. Now, many mixed patterns are widely available in the market. It is a matter of great concern that these patterns, which are unique and specific to the tribe is getting no longer identified with Idu Mishmis. In the days to come, it will merely be ‘a beautiful tribal fabric’ without the real identity and history of the community that created it. The names, that every single pattern is marked with, like aphujuloko, shumu, palithroloko, aphujuaatapra etc, will be lost.

PIC insert-sample from an about 70- year-old Idu wrap around of an Idu priest.Patterns and Loom: The economic impact of this deprivation on the common Idu Mishmi families, who still retain this art, would be colossal. In the race of production among the weavers, the native weavers will lose their source of income, as has already happened with the Assamese gamcha. Today, most of it is woven in Karnataka and brought to Assam.The hurdle of weaving Idu Mishmi fabric designs is that they are tedious and time consuming. It requires years of practice for adolescent girls, under gifted mother-weavers, to develop adeptness and exactness in designs. Unfortunately, the present system of school education in Arunachal- whether it is private schools or government schools – stresses only on textbooks and scoring ‘numbers’, wholly leaving out hands-on-skills and handicrafts that once our tribal communities were renowned for. The result is a strong discouragement of youth to learning making of traditional craft items, especially textiles. Once the knowledge of weaving is lost from a community, it will be almost difficult for the tribe to prove their ownership over the textiles and their unique heritage that helped evolve these exquisite art-forms.

But all is not lost yet. These apprehensions can be checked by patenting this uniqueness of the Idu textile items and their designs. Patenting will give these objects their real identity, keep their history intact, maintain their uniqueness and authenticity and will also boost the business for the traditional weavers. It would also encourage more young women of coming generations to acquire mastery of skills in weaving the Idu textile items.

How do we go about this? Many items like Basmati rice, Tirupati Laddu, Kolhapuri Chappals, Tripura queen pine-apples, Naga shawls, Banarasi silk have already got their Geographical Indication (GI) registration done, giving them a permanent status in the international cultural history and business markets. By doing so, the producer gets identity as an authentic manufacturer. As GI gives rights for the producer or trader who come under value chain a quality control mechanism will be implemented which will ensure the genuine product to the customer. The GI tag will ensure the authentic and quality product for the customer, which in turn will enhance the premium value of the registered goods. There are several agencies like Government departments and NGOs who are trying to develop awareness among the indigenous communities and motivate them to form a group and apply for GI registration.

It is time the educated elite in the community and the expert women weavers come together to get the Idu Mishmi textiles their urgently needed Geographical Indication (GI) registration.

Source: http://www.arunachaltimes.in/will-our-textiles-outlive-us-to-tell-our-history/

Last modified on: April 25th, 2024 03:29 PM, EST
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