Throughout the states that comprise the North East of India, weaving is an integral part of the culture. Practiced almost always by women, It’s a part of life, with most weaves and designs having specific meaning and role.
What is unique about the weaving in this region is the use of the loin loom. It is also referred to as backstrap or body tension loom and is one of the oldest devices for weaving cloth
Mostly made from bamboo, the loin looms are simple in construction and easy to use. They have neither permanent fixtures nor heavy frames and so are easily portable. Apart from these, the greatest advantage that lies with these looms is the unlimited scope that they offer for designing.
The weaver sits with a loom fixing the back strap, keeps her legs against the footrest, which is adjustable for keeping the loom in tension. The weaver becomes a part of the textile—transferring the strength of the warp and the weft through movements of the waist to which the loom is tied. The weaver`s body is integral to the loom and weaving is done without mechanical parts. The loom consists of a continuous warp stretched between two parallel bamboos, one end tied to a post or door and the other end held by a strap worn around the weaver`s lower back to regulate the tension with her body. The process entails two steps, winding a warp according to the intended design, and weaving. Warps are made on a warping frame using vertical lease sticks that keep each thread in sequence. It is then transferred to the weaver who separates it into two layers with a bamboo shed pole, leald stick, lease stick, and wooden rods, each serving different functions.
Although this age old loom is a simple device, the products woven on it vary in texture, color and design. Every tribe has three or more distinctive cloths of its own. And The exquisite designs often tell their own unique stories.. Every weaver uses this canvas to trace new designs and manifests her creativity keeping in mind the traditional norms.
The major colors seen in the textiles from this region are black, white, blue and red. Some tribes give an aesthetic appeal to their woven cloths by mingling two or more colors but in almost all cloths, one could identify a common pattern that consists of several parallel lines occurring in a series. From the geometric patterns, to nature being represented to symbols and colours, each weave has a cultural significance and have myths and legends associated with it.