Ex-bureaucrat documents tribal textile traditions- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Did you know that Lanjia Soura tribals in Gajapati barter paddy with weavers of the Domb community in exchange of their traditional clothes – Gatunkap (for women) and Arsi Oliakana (for men)? The Domb – a scheduled caste community – weavers usually charge one ‘mana’ (2.5 kg) of paddy to weave a ‘hatti’ (elbow to fingertip) of the cloth.

Similarly in Rayagada, Dongria Kondhas who wear the beautiful Kapdaganda shawls, still use turmeric, wild flowers, bean leaves, roots and even soil to dye threads for these traditional shawls.Many such interesting anecdotes about Odisha’s tribal textiles find place in former bureaucrat Raja Parija’s new coffee table book which was released by Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal in the city recently. 

Titled ‘Textile Tales from Tribal Odisha’, the book talks about tradition of six tribal fabrics like ‘Ringa’, ‘Phuta’, ‘Kerang’, Gatungkap and Arsi Oliakana’, ‘Kotpad’ and ‘Kapdaganda’ which are today much sought after by fashion designers from across the globe. 

Parija, who put in many years of research into the book, said it is aimed at documenting unique tribal traditions of the State that are on the verge of extinction. “In today’s fashion scenario, the naturally-dyed handloom fabrics of tribal Odisha have captured the attention of fashion designers everywhere.

Particularly, tribal motifs on handwoven shawls and fabrics like Kotpad and Kapdaganda. But what comes as a matter of concern is that many tribals have discontinued their weaving tradition due to various reasons,” he said.

Besides documenting the handwoven textiles of Bonda, Santhals, Gadabas, Lanjia Soura, Mirigan and Dongria Kondhs, he has added well-captured photographs of the fabrics, the process of weaving and tribals in the book. Parija hopes that his book will help fashion designers and readers get an insight into the tribal textile traditions.

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