Handloom in Meghalaya: A symbol of the state's rich & varied cultural heritage

It is a sector that directly addresses women empowerment with over 70% of the weavers and elite workers being female.



National Handloom Day, observed every year on August 7, holds a special significance in India's history. This day celebrates the launch of the Swadeshi Movement on August 7, 1905, when Mahatma Gandhi actively encouraged local indigenous industries and particularly handloom weavers to collectively work together, in the interest of the National Movement.

Every year, on this day, the country honours the handloom weaving community for their contribution to socio-economic development.

In Meghalaya, not only is handloom a symbol of the state's rich and varied cultural heritage, but it is also an important source of livelihood in rural and semi-rural parts.

It is a sector that directly addresses women empowerment with over 70 per cent of the weavers and elite workers being female. It is rooted in nature, eco-friendly in the production process with minimal requirement of capital and power and provides inherent flexibility to innovate and meet challenges in fashion trends and fast-changing customer preferences. 

The Textiles Department has taken proactive steps in the setting up of an Eri Corner in 2020 to showcase the rich Handloom traditions of the state especially the unique Ryndia which is ethically produced and processed, organically dyed and much sought after in niche markets the world over.

Credit: Textile Department

In February 2021, the State Government also recognised and declared the Umden-Diwon villages under Raid Nongtluh in Ri-Bhoi as the State's first Eri Silk Village in the state.

Ryndia logo has also been conceptualised and developed for wider brand visibility of the Ryndia products. 

Leveraging on the India@75 celebrations, various programmes are being organised in a decentralised mode across the state given the current pandemic situation.

Credit: Textile Department

In the Umden-Diwon Eri Silk village area, Ri-Bhoi district, the District Handloom Officer in collaboration with various Textiles and Handloom cooperatives/ Societies/Dyers/ SHGs etc is organising the Ri-Bhoi Weaving and Natural Dyeing Competition and also the Motifs/Patterns on Floor Loom Competition.

Weavers of Ri-Bhoi District are known for their Eri (Ryndia) weaves, which are distinct in their intricate traditional motifs. The symbols from their tradition are interwoven into their various unique Handloom products. Bamboo floor looms are extensively used along with organic dyes.

The dyes are extracted from resources found in nature such as iron ore, lac, onion, turmeric, tea leaves, hibiscus flower and many others and the mordants or fixers are the leaves of plants.

Credit: Textile Department

In collaboration with NESFAS, the Textiles Department and Department of Arts & Culture are also organising the first-ever India@75 Khneng Embroidery Competition.

Khneng is a 200-year-old dying embroidery art of the Khasi Hills, which needs to be revived as there are only 10 living exponents who practise it. 
Tucked away in the Indo Bangladesh border of East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, is a border village called Mustoh and this is the only place in the world where the legacy of Khneng embroidery is still alive.

Even though dated records are difficult to come by, experts say that the art of Khneng embroidery can be traced back to around 200 years ago. This artform if not revived, will slowly disappear and become extinct. 

Credit: Textile Department

National Handloom Day is also being celebrated in Garo Hills, Meghalaya.
The Department will be awarding and recognising Textile entrepreneurs and the oldest weavers of Garo Hills.

Norombi Cooperative Society in East Garo hills which has obtained Silk Mark, will showcase diverse products.

In collaboration with Incubator and Accelerator Training cum Production Centre, Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Sohra, East Khasi Hills District, there will be showcasing traditional products/accessories produced by skilled weavers of the above centre.

Online Exhibition of Handloom products of various Self Help Groups, from surrounding villages, is being organised and anchored on sustainability concepts will also be organised.

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