Tribal influence on Indian and international fashion – Chhattisgarh & Seven Sister States

While fashion is a reliable reflector of change, it is also the marker of a continuity of control exerted by the affluent and the powerful.

Desmond L. Kharmawphlang G. Badaiasuk Lyngdoh Nonglait Wandashisha Rynjah in Globalization: The Khasi Perspective, p. 13

Source: Globalization and Tribes of Northeast India
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Date Visited: Thu Feb 12 2015 16:07:07 GMT+0100 (CET)

Fruits of fine craftsmanship

Across the room, Deonath of the Ghasiya folk demonstrates how fine-toothed his wooden combs, embellished with red and black thread, are. “We work with the trees,” he explains. “If you use our combs every day your hair won’t turn grey easily, and you’ll have no lice.” Then, he adds as an afterthought: “Plastic combs draw blood out of your roots; that’s why premature greying sets in.”

Like Baghel, whose folk wisdom is matched by his fine art, Shabari – hosted by the task force on the Promotion of Rural Industries in Chhattisgarh and the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board – brought fine fruit to our urban tables.

But will our jaded urban palates appreciate the sweetness of the gift?

To the urban mind, images of the Chhattisgarh adivasis are inevitably adorned with heavy silver jewellery. “Without ornaments, they feel incomplete,” says Suresh Jain, whose family has practised both the craft and the trade in Raipur for over 40 years. Lifting a heavy silver lachcha or knotted neck ring, he explains this essential sign of marriage (akin to a mangalsutra or sindoor), though the designed hoops vary from region to region.

His stall boasts of hair ornaments with raised patterns, often made in gold. And an ornate belt that’s 60 years old, its links fastened by an elaborate clasp. Isn’t it too heavy at 1.2 kg.? “The older belts often weighed 4 to 6 kg.,” Suresh laughs, picking up a snake-like silver bajuband or armband.

Source: “Fruits of fine craftsmanship” by Aditi De, The Hindu, 26 December 2002
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Date Visited: Thu Feb 12 2015 16:13:11 GMT+0100 (CET)

Chhattisgarh is rich in its cultural heritage. The State has a very unique and vibrant culture. There are over 35 big and small colourful tribes spread over the region. Their rhythmic folk music, dances and dramas are a treat to watch and also provide an insight into the culture of the State.

Source: Culture & Heritage | District DURG, Government of Chhattisgarh
Date Visited: 27 February 2022

International accessory fashion designer Mawi (pronounced ‘Moy’) Keivom recently made her India debut at the Lakme Fashion Week 2014 in Mumbai. Born to diplomat parents, Manipur-born and London-based Mawi says India’s GenNext is already changing the way the country wears jewellery.

India is all about being bold and expressive be it colour, embellishment or size. I do not think that statement pieces are a problem here. […]

My jewellery is expensive despite having no gold or silver or precious stones. Prices start from £200 for a pair of earrings and can go up to £3,000 for a neckpiece.

There is a very strong tribal element in my work. I come from a culture where life is about celebration and expression. It shows in the pieces that I create.

Source: Pink is the navy blue of India: Mawi Keivom, Jewellery Designer – The Economic Times, 2 April 2014
Date Visited: 27 February 2022

Profile: Mawi Keivom, November 28th, 2014

Mawi Keivom’s namesake brand all began with a charm necklace. […]

Which country inspires you the most?

India inspires me endlessly. I am from the indigenous hill tribes of Manipur, in Northeast India, and my ancestral home is unique, special and inspiring to me. My father’s diplomatic career meant that as a child I lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving from country to country. This exposure to global culture and diversity at such a young age has been very influential for me, although ultimately I have a special bond with India and it has played an integral part in my creative growth – this influence continues to manifest itself today through the strong undercurrent of Indian and tribal undertones in my collections. […]

Source: Profile: Mawi Keivom | Wonderland Magazine – Wonderland Magazine
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Date Visited: Thu Feb 12 2015 16:59:26 GMT+0100 (CET)

London’s V&A museum gears up for India Festival

Tribal paintings, a tent belonging to Tipu Sultan and woollen Kashmiri embroidery besides a range of Mughal and other bejewelled objects from India and South Asia dating back to the 16th century are set to be exhibited in London later this year. […]

The “Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection”, which begins on November 21 and continues till March 28, 2016 would present around 100 objects drawn from a single private collection. It showcases jewellery and jewelled objects made in or inspired by, India from the 17th century to present day.

Source: “London’s V&A museum gears up for India Festival”, Economic Times 9 February 2015
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Date Visited: Thu Feb 12 2015 16:39:35 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]


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