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ART AND CRAFTS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH

INTRODUCTION:  Arunachal Pradesh is the home to a large number of tribes and sub-tribes. It has a rich tradition of craftsmanship, which manifests itself in various arts and crafts produced by these tribes. The Buddhist including Monpas, Sherdukpen, Aka, Bugun et al make beautiful masks, carpets and painted wooden vessels. The Bangnis and Apatani make bag, hat, jewellery, etc. Khamtis and Wanchos are well known for their wood carving, Pottery of Dafla women is well known. They also weave articles that are in common use in their daily life. The Shawls and Jackets of the Apatanis, the Adis Gale and shoulder bag and the Mishmis coat and shawl are symbolic of the high weaving talents and artistic sense of the people.

The art and culture of the state may be vary conveniently divided into three zones:

 

First Zone (Buddhist tribe): The Buddhist tribes are excellent craftsman, who make a variety of masks, wooden vessels and silver articles. The Monpas are also known for their intricately woven carpets with exotic figures of dragons, floral patterns and geometrical designs.

 

Second Zone – central part (from East Kameng to Lohit): Handicrafts made out of cane and bamboos are the specialties of the people of the zone. The craftsman excel in making hats, cane vessels, cane belts-woven and plain, bamboo mugs, and a variety of ornaments.

 

Third Zone (the eastern part of the territory):  Woodcarving is the specialty of this region and they carve cups, dishes and fruit bowls from wood. The Khamptis of this region are famous for carving out beautiful religious images, toys and dancing figures out of wood and also weave beautiful bags and loincloth. Items that could make excellent buys are Sherdukpens shawls, Apatani jackets and scarves, Adi skirts, jackets and bags, Mishmi shawls, blouses and jackets, and Wancho bags.

 

    

weavWeaving:  Arunachal Pradesh can be called store house of Handloom designs as its 20 major tribes and more than 100 sub-tribes has got unique and appealing Handloom designs.The Apatanis are the more skilled weavers among all tribes. Fibers made from the bark of trees, hairs of goats and humans, besides cotton and wool are used in weaving. A variety of the clothes and material are woven which include coats, shawls, skirts, lungis, Sasha and carpets. The tribe brings out some of the exquisite patterns, designs, and motifs in their weaves using these colors.

 

 

 

 

 

craneCane and Bamboo work:  The traditional Cane Bamboo product are mainly available in the districts of East Kameng, Papumpare, Changlang, Upper and Lower Subansiri, East and West Siang, Lohit and Dibang Valley which represents high premium on design, quality, local technology and focus cultural identity. Cane and Bamboo industry of Arunachal Pradesh is of very high standard. Most of the domestic requirements are made of cane and bamboo. The Arunachalis are expert craftsmen, who create some of the most exquisite artifacts using cane and bamboo. As a matter of fact most of the domestic requirements are made of these materials. Hats, baskets, cane vessels, cane belts – woven and plain, bamboo mugs with carvings, a wide variety of ornaments and jewellery items are all grafted by workmen.

 

 

 

carpetCarpet Making:  The Carpet Making is one of the important occupations in the districts of Tawang, West Kameng, Changlang and Upper Siang. Carpet making is the specialty of the Monpas. They weave lovely colorful carpets with dragon, geometric and floral designs. Carpet weaving has today become a major occupation of the womenfolk and with an increase in demand; production of the carpets is now being undertaken on large scale. The Arunachal Pradesh’s carpet has been acclaimed to be of National & International repute by considering the quality of carpet weaving in different motive and design. The items produced are wall hanging, cushion pad, telephone pad, floor covering, etc. These are being promoted through Government Craft Centre with provision for training.

 

 

 

 

paintingPainting:  Tangkha painting is one of the most artistic craft; it is prevalent mainly in Buddhist dominated area like Tawang, West Kameng and Upper Siang Districts. The motif of the painting is mostly religious subject along with traditional value.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

woodWood Carving:  The tribes of Arunachal Pradesh also excel in the art of woodcarvings. The unique and artistic indigenous wood carving articles are available in Tirap, Upper & West Siang, Lohit and Tawang. The Monpas, Khamtis and Wanchos occupy significant place in this art. The Monpa wood carver makes beautiful cups, dishes; fruit bowls and carve magnificent masks for ceremonial dances and pantomimes. Wooden masks are also carved by the Khambas and Membas of West Siang. It is practiced by very limited artisans/craftsman both passed out trainees form the Department of  Craft Centre as well as traditional artisans The main raw materials used are locally available wood. Images of Lord Buddha, animal figurines, warriors and miniature of Morung (Youth Dormitory) are the most commonly found woodcarvings.

 

 

 

blacksmithyBlacksmithy:  Metal is mostly used by the tribes for making weapons and tools. The Machetes are expert blacksmiths, who make arrowheads, knives, iron bracelets as well as jewellery. Apart from this each tribe specializes in making a few particular products out of metal. The Singpho are famous for their designer daos, the Noctes, the Wancho and the Tangsa for their forges and daos. Besides them, the Adis are known to produce various weapon and implements from iron. The Mishmis are famous for their arrowheads and knives.

 

 

 

 

 

potteryPottery Crafting:  Pottery is another area which finds artistic expression in the life of the Arunachalis. Some brilliantly designed products like vessels, vases and earthenware, which are a collector’s item, can be found in the state. The craftsmen also use multicolored beads, feathers of birds and wings of the green beetles in many of the crafts as an embellishment. Dafla women are skilled in this craft. The legend is that Abo Takam was the first Dafla potter and from him the art passed on to the women.

 

 

 

 

 

ornaOrnaments:  Ornaments making is another craft widely practiced in Arunachal Pradesh. Besides heads of various colors and sizes blue feathered wings of birds and green wings of beetles are used in decoration. The Akas make bamboo bangles and ear ornament which are sometimes decorated with pucker work design. The Wancho girls particularly are very excellent in beads work. Various ornaments of colored glass beads hold a special fascination for the people of state. Silver ornaments are a specialty of the Mishmis. The Idu Mishmi women wear silver fillet necklace with lockets and beautiful earrings. The Sherdukpens and the Khamptis at one time were also renowned for silver work.

 

 

 

 

ivory and wooden craftIvory & Metal Craft:  Many tribes of the state are also expert in crafting with brass, bone, ivory, silver and gold. Traditionally, the Monpas and the Sherdukpens are known as the silversmiths. Apart from them, the Nyishis and Sulungs are specialist in brass smithy producing delicate ornaments, kitchen utensils, sacred bells and smoking pipes. Likewise, the Khamtis were proficient crafting in gold, iron and ivory.

 

 

 

 

 

paperOther Crafts:  Paper making, carpentry are other crafts practiced by the people. The Monpas make paper tree. These handmade papers are used for writing religious prayers and hymns. Most of the requirement of tools and implements are made by the people themselves. Some of the blacksmiths are expert in gun making also. The Adis were once expert in casting in brass. The Nishing smiths still make brass ornaments, dishes and sacred bells. The people of Arunachal Pradesh resort to hunting in their leisure to supplement their food. The weapons commonly used and made by them are spears, bows and arrows and Daos. The arrow sometimes have poisoned tips and are carried in quivers of bamboo tribes. Cross bows and guns are also used. They also have indigenous ways of snaring and trapping animals and birds. Like hunting, fishing also forms a subsidiary occupation. For fishing they make various traps, big and small, with or without valves. Fishing nets of different types such as hand nets, cast nets, etc. woven by the people of Arunachal Pradesh. There are many more minor arts such as doll making, ivory work, etc. practiced in different parts of Arunachal Pradesh.