GUWAHATI, Aug 24: A collaborative effort involving Assam’s leading biodiversity conservation organisation, Aaranyak, the community-based enterprise Pirbi, Chandrasing Rongpi Memorial High School, and local communities has led to a vibrant Karbi Handloom Exhibition held on Wednesday at Chandrasing Rongpi Village, Kohora, Karbi Anglong.
The Karbi community, an important ethnic group in Assam with a strong cultural tradition and deep-rooted relationship with nature stewardship, displayed their handloom practices, which are not only symbolic of their culture but also reflect their distinct identity. Karbi women take immense pride in their weaving skills, creating attire for themselves and their families. The exhibition aimed to showcase traditional Karbi handloom products crafted by women from the Kohora and Diring areas. It also sought to identify talented weavers, assess product quality, promote diversification, and plan for capacity building and market integration.
A total of 49 Karbi weavers from ten villages in Kohora and Diring, Karbi Anglong, participated in the exhibition, presenting around 300 meticulously crafted handloom items. Additionally, a group of three expert Karbi indigenous weavers from the Diphu region demonstrated their unique Eri silk products and the associated skills. Kave Engtipi, Sang-et Killingpi, and Mirbon Teronpi showcased traditional handloom products using Eri silk, highlighting both traditional drop spindle techniques and modern tabletop spinning machines. The local weavers were enthusiastic about learning and adopting these skills.
Sashikala Hansepi, an entrepreneur and renowned Karbi singer from Diphu, inaugurated the event. She emphasised the intricate relationship between the Karbi people and nature, evident in the diverse motifs and designs adorning their handloom textiles. Sashikala highlighted the rich handloom and textile tradition of the Karbi community, where different occasions call for specific attire based on age groups, gender, and social customs, all distinguished by varying motifs and textile designs.
Joshna Terangpi, project officer at Aaranyak, provided insights into the background and purpose of the Handloom Exhibition, emphasising the vital role women play in preserving Karbi handloom heritage.
Dilip Kathar, tribal culture research officer of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, Diphu, discussed the cultural significance of motifs in Karbi handloom and the associated taboos. He also shared Karbi folklore related to the origin and practice of weaving.
The exhibits were evaluated by several experts, including B Mili from the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Northeastern Regional Office, who encouraged local weavers to leverage government schemes by registering with the commission.
Designers Maitryee Das and Mausami Sharma evaluated the exhibits and highlighted opportunities for systematic diversification of Karbi handloom products in regional, national, and international markets.
The event aimed to revive cultural ethics and motifs, fostering a stronger connection between the Karbi community and their heritage. Aaranyak thanked all participants, evaluators, and volunteers for their collective effort in making the exhibition a success.