A loin loom festival in Nagaland aims to sustain indigenous craft traditions with intellectual property laws, and by training a new generation of women artisans
Vitono Gugu Haralu, 37, grew up watching her mother weave intricate Naga shawls, cushion covers and table runners. It has been more than 30 years, but her mother’s weaving business has made little progress. The reason? Raw materials like long-staple cotton are not widely cultivated in the state and natural dyes like indigo and manjistha (Rubia cordifolia) are scarce and expensive. Additionally, marketing and showcasing at exhibitions require time and money.
In the patriarchal culture of Nagaland, weaving is a woman’s job. For Haralu, supporting weavers is linked to women’s empowerment, apart from preserving the state’s indigenous loin loom crafts. In 2012, Haralu moved back from Delhi, where she worked as an activist, to focus on women’s rights. She founded Pathfinders, an NGO, in 2015. She also began volunteering with Exotic Echo—an independent organization founded in 2008 that works with rural women weavers to leverage their livelihoods. Haralu was the moderator at the fifth edition of the International Loinloom Festival held on 6-7 December—an annual initiative of the organization.....Read more
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