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Textiles

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 of pattern. 


The Adi 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 Monpas.

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.

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Last Updated on : 4 June 2014