Abhinav Dhoundiyal | abhinav.dhoundiyal@gmail.com

The Soul of Colours: A Study of the Textile Traditions of the Angami, Rengma, Lotha and Sumi Naga Tribes

Guide Aditi Ranjan
Sponsor Outreach Programs, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
Keywords colour palette;craft culture;raw materials;traditional knowledge

This project studied the textile traditions of the Angami, Rengma, Lotha, and Sumi Naga tribes living in Dimapur, Kohima, Wokha, and Zunheboto districts of Nagaland. The first phase of the project aimed at studying and documenting the textile crafts and the craftspersons.

The need is to innovate and repair what has been damaged and recycle, repurpose, and reuse what already exists. The material and the craft culture of the different tribes of Nagaland, which imbibe a lot from the immediate environment, may provide hints about the right direction towards simple, efficient, and non-polluting ways to do everyday things. The second phase of the project focused on finding opportunities for design intervention in order to revive or conserve the traditional knowledge, skills, raw materials, and products. In Nagaland, the skill of natural dyeing has almost become dormant.

The whole system finds relevance in the context of Nagaland and the northeast; thus, the need for a colour fast palette of natural dyes was identified along with developing a source of information referring to which young entrepreneurs, individual weavers, and government organisations could practice the same processes.
The information on natural dyeing, dyed yarns, and the colour palette provided an agenda for the third phase of the project which was to find opportunities for reproducing traditional textiles of various tribes. Three copies of each design were procured by the Nagaland Handloom & Handicrafts Development Corporation (NHHDC) Ltd.; the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad; and IGNCA, New Delhi for archival purposes.

When concentrating on the appreciation of raw materials, skills, and processes related to the field of textiles, the learning has been immense. As one goes through the perfection and craftsmanship through first-hand experiments, the learning becomes stronger.
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