The weavers’ training centre in Rowmari, Assam bustled with activity.
Eight women weavers, carefully selected from among the beneficiaries of the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) Greater Manas green livelihoods project, were participating in an intensive three-week training workshop.
Featuring faculty and trainers from the Bengaluru-based Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, the workshop taught advanced weaving techniques so the women could further enhance their skills to make a larger set of products to suit international markets.
“The women of Assam naturally inherit the art of weaving in their culture,” said Swati Unakar, faculty coordinator of the textile design program at Srishti. “We helped them with new techniques to prepare them to meet the market demand for more contemporary designs.”
The weavers currently produce a wide range of hand-woven attire, comprising traditionally used aronai, gamosa, and dokhona in limited colours and patterns. Their craft enables them to earn some additional monthly income.
This workshop served to inspire them to incorporate the amazing flora and fauna of Assam into their work, essentially merging traditional design with wildlife conservation themes. New designs blending colors and textures and the art of natural dyeing were introduced in an interactive session.
“The workshop inspired us to include new design and creativity in day-to-day weaving,” said Monita Warry who had never had any formal training in weaving. She started weaving at the age of 18 and inherited the art from her mother.
“Now it makes real sense to focus in one direction with some objectives in mind” said Maya Mushary, who hails from a village near Manas called Kumursali and has three children.
“This enhancing of their skills and introducing new ideas is opening more avenues [for these women],” says IFAW-WTI sociologist Samar Boro. “They have already succeeded in incorporating the design of the Asian Elephant in aronai (traditional scarf), which was a new and challenging task for them. This workshop will refine their products to another level.”
The women shared samples created during this workshop in an open house exhibition, where the women displayed sarees with a fusion of local design and modern colors, table linens, cushions, naturally dyed garments and various travel accessories.
We hope these women will go back to their village and train more beneficiaries in turn. The rich cultural heritage of Bodo weaving showcased through products will heighten awareness on the pride of Assam globally and help conservation efforts that provide a green livelihood to communities locally.
It is all part of a larger effort by IFAW-WTI to “bring back Manas” to its former glory.
Article source: IFAW