The north eastern part of India has got a very strong and rich weaving legacy. Weaving is a part of its traditional business that belongs to a broad range of social groups in the states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. Mostly, the weaves and motifs are categories on the basis of their tribes and the state they belong to. The handloom sector is one of the most dependable sources of income for the north eastern states, along with their tourism business. Each and every tribe of the north eastern state excels in the craft of weaving, and has developed its unique and exquisite weaves. The materials used for textiles has a varied range – cotton, wool, Endi, Muga and orchid skin, animal hair are used by different ethnic group. The one common link that we see in all their weaves is- Fringes are present at both the ends.
The kind of looms used in Northeast States are fly shuttle looms, throw shuttle looms and especially in the hilly regions, is the ‘loin loom’ which is quite different from the other loom types used in the other parts of India. There is no pedal for the shedding motion, and every weaving motion is done by hand. The handloom fabric produced ranges from shawls, sarees, mekhala chador, gamochas, gent’s jackets, ladies wear, bed sheets, bed covers, furnishings, carpets and shoulder bags etc.
Weaving has become an integral part of their tradition and culture, and is practised among all the ethnic groups and tribes. But, it’s also very disheartening at the same time that many weavers (mostly women) do not get the right platform to showcase their products and hence not able to flourish their business, and live in poverty. Though the market of hand made products are very high, but one can’t deny the fact that how machine made products are replacing the handloom sector of our country. These artisans need the right platform to display their talent and art.
Due to marketing problems, weavers sometimes prefer to work under merchant weaver despite getting low wages. Generally, the promotion is only through exhibitions and fairs with limited outlets for a limited periods, mainly only during festival seasons. Hence the customer purchases such handloom products, only when available and switch to the other competing products when handloom products are out of sight. Therefore handloom sector needs a focused strategy of continuous promotion and regular advertising campaign.
Today, we will be going though the profile of one such woman who took the initiative of showcasing the handmade industry of the northeastern weaves across the country. She has created a niche market for the north eastern weaves in Kolkata and ships globally. Though Assam handloom is the focus of attention offlate, she is equally promoting the weaves from the others states of north east like Arunachal, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.
ilika is all about – showcasing the diverse and exquisite textile craft industry of the northeastern weavers . It is a one woman shop by Pallavita Nandi who herself is from Assam. The main motive is to showcase the 9traditional handweaved dresses of northeast India along with handweaved sarees . A constant effort to bring something new is all about Ilika .
The home decor and lifestyle segment has also got a very unique collection of handpainted postcards on traditional significance of Assam, to fabrics, blouses,handmade bags and table runners and many more.
Each product of ilika speaks about the rich and exquisite weaving tradition of the Northeastern part of our India. Products of ilika are mainly on organic cotton and high count cotton. Collection of silks are also available.
ilika is aslo into revival heritage weave . They weave heritage sarees which are handed over down the generations. Today ,there are a handful of expert weavers who can either revive the beautiful weaves and motifs, or are able to restore a saree to its original state. In both the ways its painstaking and time consuming .
So now, when you purchase a north eastern weave, you will be glad to know that-with deft fingers and an elementary appliance, a woman from the hills of North- East has weaved magic into this hand-woven textile just for you.