Traditional weaving thrives among Senapati women

GENEVIEVE
SENAPATI, 9th Jul: Three months after the imposition of lockdown for containing Covid-19 pandemic, people have adapted to the new way of living – staying at home and working for keeping safe. Initially, the idea was to encourage people to stay at home safely until the spread of Covid-19 could be contained, but the situation is quite different now.
Of the many interests that are drawing the attention of people in this lockdown, traditional weaving seems to be the most popular among the young women in Senapati.
With plenty of time in their hands, they found that making time for pursuing a hobby is the best way to learn something new. They are renewing and experimenting their interest in the traditional loin loom weaving, which is a skill and occupation that is passed down the generations among women in tribal communities of the North-East region.
Traditional loin loom weaving, which had been slowly disappearing especially among the youngsters and so is the weaving skill, has been revived during the lockdown. Young women in Senapati are resorting to weaving, either to beat the boredom or make the best use of leisure time or reviving their old hobbies.
“I learnt weaving during my young age. But because of my busy schedule, I had no time until now. I finally got time to revive my old hobby”, said Ziiveine.
Ziiveine, an ICDS supervisor, left her hobby unattended for long due to her tight official work schedule. But the lockdown has provided her an opportunity to revive her old hobby.
Ziiveine said that weaving is a skill which needs a lot of passion and energy. However, women or girls may not necessarily undergo training in weaving, as the skills are learnt participating in the activity from an early age while assisting mothers or elders. “Weaving helps me to keep alive the customs of my tribe (Poumai) and also develop new ideas and techniques. I’m sure I’ve inspired my neighbours during this pandemic as they have started taking up weaving as well,” said Ziiveine, who is also taking out her time for cooking and gardening while working from home.
Chaveine, a student who recently passed her X standard, took to weaving during the lockdown, talked excitedly about her experience.
She started to learn weaving with her two elder sisters in the early stage of the lockdown. Since childhood she was inspired by her aunt.
“I had no experience in weaving at first. But the lockdown leaves me with no choice but to do something productive. After giving my board exam, I started learning to weave and gradually finished weaving two Mekhalas (a wrap-around) for me and my sisters that may cost thousands in the market”, said Chaveine.
Like Ziiveine and Chaveine, Presila started weaving as a hobby during the lockdown. The 26-year-old teacher was left with no choice but to do something to earn a living.
“During the lockdown, weaving helps me financially. Being unable to go for classes due to the pandemic, I always thought of doing something in order to make use of my free time. It has become difficult for me to manage the household expenditure since we are not paid”, said Presila.
With the little amount of skill she possessed, Presila bought some weaving yarns from the shop and was able to provide herself financially with the finished products. This traditional activity has an economic significance and forms an important part of the socio-culture of tribal societies. “Anybody can weave if one has the patience. Though the traditional loin loom weaving is time-consuming and produces far lesser, the quality of the products delivered is far superior”, she added.


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