Over the last couple of years, fashion conscious people across the world have started to appreciate unique weaves and one-of-a-kind designs over mass-manufactured goods that typically flood the markets. The Northeast, in particular, is known for its striking weaves and fabric, but for many years, weavers in the region had a tough time competing with brands that would use high-tech machines to produce items in bulk and sell the same at cheap rates. But, in what seems to be a ray of hope for weavers in NE, a rising demand has been noticed in the national and global market for hand-woven fabric, in the last couple of years. But, for weavers to profit from this growing trend, they need the right kind of exposure and Exotic Echo Society in Nagaland is one initiative which aims to do just that.
International Loinloom Festival
In order to put the focus on loinloom weavers in Nagaland, Exotic Echo organizes an International Loinloom Festival every year. For those not in the know, loinloom weaving also known as backstrap weaving only survives in some parts of Northeast India along with certain pockets in South East Asia, Central and South America. It is a slowly vanishing art that Exotic Echo aims to promote and popularize across the globe.
A registered society, Exotic Echo Society has over 200 members. The focus is on farming, specifically cotton cultivation. They work with local dyers, spinners and weavers. Neel Biswas handles all the networking outside the region along with the festival coordination. Sonnie Kath handles the design, production and making of textiles, and also coordinates mobilization of weavers.
The International Loinloom Festival attracts visitors from across the globe, who travel all the way to Diezephe village in Dimapur to understand the art of weaving, learn more about the stories of the women weavers and take part in the interesting workshops and sessions that are organized as part of the festival.
Apart from the festival, Exotic Echo Society showcase the weaves in exhibitions across the region and the country, and even in different parts of the world.
Aim of the Festival
>to recognize and specify the Loinloom Scheme
>set up a separate Handloom Directorate
>set up a committee which will work together with the government
>introduce loinloom weaving as an optional subject in educational institutes
>to give custodian right to the local weavers so that the design of heritage textile is not duplicated or used improperly
The 2017 Edition
This year, the festival will be held from 6th to 8th December. More than 240 loimloom weavers from Nagaland and other States of the Northeast will be participating in the festival. They also plan to bring in guest weavers from other South East Asian countries. The schedule will include workshops, panel discussions, weaving, competitions, and more. At the festival, you will also be able to enjoy live performances by talented local and national artistes. This year, the festival has a stellar line-up which includes fusion band Abiogenesis on 6th December, folk act Tetseo Sisters and Bollywood fusion band Tatva on 7th December, and singer/songwriter Mengu Suokhrie on 8th December.
Be sure to pack light as the festival will feature an array of stalls showcasing unique products; you are bound to find weaves and trinkets that you will want to bring back home with you.
By Meeta Borah
Photos: Exotic Echo Society Facebook Page