In India’s remote corner of Nagaland, what you wear matters – each tribe is known by the distinct motifs and patterns of their clothing. And with over 16 tribes and countless sub-tribes, you can imagine the depth and diversity of designs.
These textiles are woven using the ancient backstrap loom made of bamboo sticks and rope that’s fastened around the weaver’s waist. The best part? This loom can be set up pretty much anywhere, giving weavers the flexibility to work from home.
During our trip, Jesmina, the head of this group, took us to the weavers’ homes so we could see how it’s done. With each visit, we were taken aback by the artistry and expertise of these women. Weaving entirely by memory, these ladies effortlessly execute intricate patterns and stunning details.
Until about 25 years ago, these motifs were reserved for shawls or sarongs, but Jesmina saw an opportunity to expand the market by creating pillows and throws with the designs. Fast forward to today, and she now works with multiple weaving communities, providing sustainable employment and ensuring this craft lives on.