The textile patterns found among the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh such
as Adi, Mishmi and Apatani are invariably of geometric pattern.
Most popular motives are Zig-Zag lines and angular designs. The floral
and Zemorphic patterns are more or less geometric form. The simple
and straight lines, stripes and Aa bands and similar other patterns
are most common. Contrasts and combination of colours are quite popular.
The highly disciplined Adi and Apatani concentrate on simple straight
line, while the strongly individualistic Mishmis go in for great celebration
have a great variety of straight forward patterns. There are arrangements of red
and black strips on white ground, white and yellow strips on a black ground
alternate bands of red and black ground, white bands of red and black or of olive green and brown, broad border-bands of brown with a central
narrow strips of black and white and the body of the cloth being black with
brown black and white strips at a three-inch interval.
The Gallong still continue the traditional design on
the white clothes with broad rectangular design across the centre. The
most popular Padam Minyong skirt is of crimson yellow colour
with a vertical band which runs down the centre. The different varieties
of bands and colour make the Apatani cloth different from that of the
Gallong. The Mishmi weavings is however, more elaborate though
the straight lines and bands are in use.
The colours and designs have their symbolic meaning among
some of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. In Tuensang, the small
red squares on a sanctum cloth are said to represent the ferment
used in making beer. Shapely pointed triangles are arrows or horn
bills. Circles of cowries stretched on a cloth symbolise human heads.
The red colour of the shawls stands for the blood enemies, blue stand
for the sky and black for the night.
The use of certain kinds of clothes and ornaments is often
associated to a family's social position and achievements in the fields of
hospitality and war. The Apatani priests may wear special shawl on ceremonial
occasion. This shawl with extraordinary design is said to have special
supernatural power. One can know about the civil status of a girl from the type
of belt she wears. The unmarried Adi girl wear one type of belt. Married women
wear another. The Sherdukpens and Hrurso aristocracy alone can wear the Tibetan
knobbed bat and in the past there were restrictions on the use of silk among the
Wanchoos allow only members of the chiefs family to wear a certain type of blue
head on the arms and legs and have special design for their head
bands. In Tuensang the dress protocol has great importance specially because, in
the past, man's social position depended on his success in head-hunting and in
giving feasts of merit.
Though there has not been much external influence on
the design of the fabrics in Arunachal Pradesh, there has been some borrowing of
motifs form the neighbouring areas. In western Kameng for example, the
influence of Bhutan and Tibet is evident in many of the products of the
Monpa loom. Monpa painting is largely Tibetan in subject and technique.
Aeroplanes are now familiar objects all over the frontier and they appear in
some recent Mishmi textiles.