1850 - 1980

Textile Traditions in India: North Eastern Region

Indian Museum, Kolkata

Each ethnic group has its own designs and colour combination. Different motifs and designs of textiles have relationship with the rituals and religious life of the people of North-Eastern India. 

Indigenous Textile Cultures
North-east India occupies a unique and important place in the indigenous textile culture of India. The people of the hilly areas and the valley areas of North-east India display heterogeneity in terms of varied eco-cultural and ethno-linguistic characteristics though all of them generally belong to the same Mongoloid ethnic group. However, each ethnic group has its own distinct, dynamic set of traditions, mythology, history and social structure. Textiles and dresses are probably dominantly identifiable cultural aspects which show the resemblances as well as the differences among the ethnic groups that produced and used by them. Traditional dress of an ethnic group plays a major role in showcasing the ethnic identity. Each ethnic group has its own designs and colour combination. Different motifs and designs of textiles have relationship with the rituals and religious life of the people of North-east India. The method of weaving also vary according to region and ethnic groups. The materials used for textiles has a varied range - cotton, wool, Endi, Muga and orchid skin, animal hair are used by different ethnic group.

Wrapper

It is a piece of Endi cloth having red and white stripes. Fringes are present at both ends. It is used as wrapper by the Mikir/ Karbi ethnic group.

Coat

It is a sleeveless, cotton coat having off-white and maroon vertical stripes. Woven designs are present, just below the neck and on the lower end of both sides. Long cotton fringes are present at lower end. It is used by the Mikir/ Karbi male.

Moona Bag

It is a cotton bag, rectangular in shape. It is decorated with thick woven designs. The strap is made of plaited cotton thread. The cotton thread are multi coloured- yellow, black, brown and green.

Pani Gamcha (Cotton Towel Cloth)

It is a piece of black cotton cloth having white stripes on it. It has woven designed borders. The designs are made with red, orange and white cotton thread. Two pieces of cloth are stitched together to get the required length of the cloth. It is used by the Meiti women.

Headdress
It is a headdress, made of white coloured cotton cloth. The headdress is decorated with two pieces of long, white coloured cotton cloth, provided with red coloured ornamental designs, in the front of the headdress. At the front of the headdress a floral motif is present, which is decorated with red and green coloured beads. At the back of the headdress jori ribbons are present. Two knitted yellow coloured pieces are hanging from the headdress for extra decoration. It is used by the Meiti ethnic group.

Kakat-Bandha / Gamcha (Towel Cloth)

It is a narrow piece of yellow coloured cotton cloth with embroidery work and cotton fringes at the two sides. It is used as waist band by the Bodo ethnic group.

Phali / Bhunue Champa Ranga (Open Cotton Drape)

It is a red cotton cloth having white narrow borders and beautifully woven designs on the two ends. Plaited stripes, floral designs as well as human and animal motif are woven with yellow, black and white cotton thread on the ends. Fringes of cotton thread having yellow and black cotton balls, alternately hung from the ends. It is used by the Bodo and Cachari ethnic group.

RENSHAW / White cotton cloth
It is a white, cotton cloth having narrow brown borders. Temple designs in brown are present above the brown borders. Two ends have red and blue stripes and a few geometric designs. It is used as scarf. It is used by the Sankhor Cachari ethnic group.

Phali/ Bhunue Champa Ranga (Open Drape)

It is a dark navy blue cotton cloth with red borders. Two ends of the cloth are decorated with woven designs, made by red, yellow and white cotton thread. The designs are made in rows. Floral and animal motifs as well as human figures are woven. Fringes of cotton thread are present at two ends.

Cloth
It is a long piece of cotton cloth having narrow width. The cloth has yellow stripes on red base on one half of it. The remaining part has red stripes on yellow base and plain red border. Woven designs, made by green and yellow cotton thread are present at the ends. Geometric designs are present. Fringes of cotton are present at the ends.

Shawl/ Chador

It is a piece of black cotton cloth used as a shawl, which is decorated with multicoloured embroidery work in geometric form. It is used by the Mishing women.

Jang Jenatuan (Open Drape Cloth)

It is a piece of black cotton cloth, decorated with woven designed bands at regular interval. Geometric designs are woven with white and red cotton thread on black base. It is used by the Kuki ethnic group.

LUNG-UN-PUAN
It is a piece of cotton cloth, dark blue in colour. It has brown coloured borders. The body has white and brown stripes at regular interval. Woven geometric designs with white and brown thread are present at both ends. It is used by the Kuki priest.

Engewina (Woman’s Skirt)

It is a cotton skirt. The skirt is off-white in colour. The body of the skirt is decorated with red, black and white coloured lines. Red and black triangular designs are present in between the lines. It is used by the men of Kabui Naga ethnic group.

Sporans (Sash)

It is a black cotton band having red coloured geometric designs, woven on the outer surface of it. Dyed animal's hair is attached to the lower border of the band. Fringes of cotton thread are present at two ends of the band for tying it. It is used by the Angami Naga men.

Kilt (Apron)

It is a piece of almost rectangular black cotton cloth, decorated with cowrie shells. Twenty vertically placed thickly stitched rows of cowrie shells are present at two places i.e., at the middle and at one end. Three horizontal rows of cowrie shells and again fifteen vertical lines of cowrie shells are stitched on the cloth. A piece of bamboo is inserted at one end of the cloth. It is used by the Naga men.

Warrior's Cloth

It is black coloured wrapper having a white cloth stitched at the middle. The white cloth has painted human figures. A few stripes of brown colour are stitched at regular interval on the black base. It is worn by the Naga warriors.

Rongsis / Wrapper
It is a black coloured coarse cotton cloth having four lines of white stripes on its borders. The cloth is decorated with square shaped woven designs in red colour at regular interval. It is used by the Sangtam Naga warriors.

Head Dress

It is a narrow piece of black cotton cloth. One end of the cloth is woven with red coloured thread and decorated with cowrie shells. The other end is stitched to form a small pocket. The cowrie shells are stitched in a circle and six long and two short rows of shells flanked from the circle. It is used by the Sema Naga.

Shawl
It is a black coloured shawl, which is made of cotton. The shawl is decorated with blue coloured lineal embroidery designs and red squares. Each end of the shawl has red, yellow and black coloured thin border and has a number of cotton tassels or fringes. It is used by the Sema Naga ethnic group.

Wrapper

It is a black coloured cotton wrapper with two broad red coloured woollen bands. Cotton and woolen fringes are present at the ends. A white band is present at the middle which is painted with star marks and animal and human figures. It is used by the Konyak Naga warriors.

Skirt
It is a red coloured traditional skirt. The skirt is woven with multi coloured cotton thread. The colour of the skirt is red. The both ends of the skirt have only two cotton tassels which are attached at the sides of the skirt. It is used by the Lower Konyak Naga ethnic group.

Thotsepfhe (White Shawl)

It is a cotton shawl, white in colour. The shawl has black embroidered designs at one of its end. The embroidered wavy designs present on the body of shawl and these are kept within a squarish box. Four pieces of cloth are stitched together to get the required length of the Shawl. It is used by the Angami Naga ethnic group.

Skirt

It is a black coloured skirt. A blue coloured band is present at the middle. The skirt is decorated with multi coloured designed lines at regular interval. The skirt has green and red coloured lines at the borders. The two ends of the skirt have cotton fringes. It is used by the Lotha Naga ethnic group.

Shawl

This is a white coloured cotton shawl. The shawl is decorated with red coloured lineal designs and red, black and white coloured tassels. Both sides of the shawl have multi coloured borders. Both ends of the shawl have a number of white and black coloured tassels. It is used by the Maram Naga ethnic group.

Shawl

This is a red coloured, traditional, woolen shawl. The shawl is decorated with blue and white coloured lineal designs. Each end of the shawl has a number of woolen fringes. It is used by the Phom Naga ethnic group.

AMUTHRI-KHIM / Wrapper

This is a piece of cotton cloth having red, blue and black stripes on the body. Woven embroidered designs are present at the middle, on the borders at two ends. It is used by the Yimchunger Naga ethnic group.

Skirt

This is a skirt, which is made of cotton. The skirt is decorated with blue and pink coloured geometric designs. The lower border of the skirt has multi coloured wavy designs. Both ends of the skirt have a number of cotton tassels or fringes. It is used by the Ao Naga ethnic group.

Skirt

This is a white cotton cloth having brown coloured borders. Four narrow pieces of cloth are stitched to form the cloth. Embroidered bird motifs are woven at regular interval on the joining stitches of the cloth. Embroidery was done with blue and brown thread. It is used by the Kabui Naga ethnic group.

Cloth

This is a cotton cloth, with broad red borders. The body of the cloth is blue with red stripes on it. A white stripe is present on each red stripe. A green and a yellow stripes are present between the body of the cloth and red borders. Four pieces of cloth are stitched to get the required length. An extra piece of red border is stitched with the main cloth at one border. It is used by the Zeliang Naga ethnic group.

Shawl

This is a cotton cloth having red and brown stripes on the body. The borders are green. A yellow line is present above the green borders. The ends have cotton tassels. It is used by the Kabui Naga ethnic group.

Moirangfee

This is a cotton cloth, yellow in colour having green and red temple design on the borders. It is used by the Meiti women.

Dakmanta (Cloth Used for Skirt)

This is a green cotton cloth having broad designed borders. Three rows of geometric designs are woven with white thread are present on the borders. Floral designs, made by multi coloured thread, are present allover the body at regular interval. Two ends have three rows of woven designs. It is used by the Garo female.

Galuk (Jacket)

This is a black coloured sleeveless jacket, made of cotton. The jacket is decorated with a few patches of embroidery work with red, white and golden thread. It is used by the males of Galong ethnic group.

Galuk (Jacket)

This is a black coloured, full sleeved jacket, made of cotton cloth. It is decorated with embroidery work with coloured cotton thread The embroidery work is present along the neck,in the sleeves and on the pockets. It is used by the female of Galong ethnic group.

Mal-am (Cloth)

This is a black coloured thick cotton cloth. Four, wide, geometric designed, embroidered rows are present vertically on the body of the cloth. It is used by the Paite women.

Sash

This is a band, made of bark fibre and decorated with red, blue, yellow and green coloured geometric designs. The designs are woven with wool. Two ends have plaited fringes, made of bark fibre. It is used by the Lower Konyak ethnic group.

Gando (Cloth)

This is a cotton cloth having red and blue stripes on the body. The border has wide red stripe along with thin blue stripe. A row of floral designs is present vertically in the middle of the cloth. It is used by the Garo ethnic group.

Wrapper

This is a piece of cotton cloth, dark blue in colour having woven designed borders. Two pieces of cloth are stitched to get the required length of the cloth.

Indian Museum Kolkata
Credits: Story

Sponsoring Institution: Indian Museum, Kolkata

Chief Co-Ordinator: Dr. Jayanta Sengupta

Exhibition prepared by:
Dr. Mita Chakrabarty

Photographs by: Museum Photography Unit

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile