Expert textile artist Angana Bordoloi maintains a generations-spanning weaving technique to make a range of products that exemplify ancient traditions of the Mishing tribal people, who have lived in northeastern India for centuries.
Bordoloi grew up in Assam, where India’s handloom culture remains especially popular. “Since childhood,” she maintains, “I’ve been nurturing a dream of showcasing our rich cultural handloom heritage to a global audience.” Especially drawn to the unique patterns and colorful motifs developed by the Mishing tribe, Bordoloi devoted time an adult to learn ancient weaving techniques. In ages past, this unique wearable art form was worn by Mishing tribespeople during important ceremonies as well as for routine tasks; today, Bordoloi and her group of all-female artisans hope to introduce Mishing textiles to a bigger audience. “My work,” Bordoloi explains, “will not only introduce this style to the global textile market, but also the products will help grow small businesses within this community.”
Only organic yarns of silk, cotton, wool, are used, which weavers check for quality before embarking upon a design. Next, items like shawls and scarves are woven on pit-looms—traditional bamboo instruments usually made at home by male family members. The folk art of the Mishing conveys the majesty and mystery of the natural world through borders of abstract lines, triangles and diamonds. Triangular designs, narrow at the top and broad at the bottom, represent hills, while smaller motifs, like stars and flowers, often appear in women’s clothing. “I believe,” says Bordoloi, “that blending ancient techniques with modern styles, and creating job opportunities in this area, will help keep this wonderful folk art from becoming obsolete.”