Border Crossing

Art history/ Historiography, Crafts, Handlooms, Art, Craftspersons/ Artisanal

Border Crossing: Kotpad Weaves

Turaga, Janaki

The Kotpad adivasi weavers have managed to keep both tribal and urban consumers happy. Will the good times last? On a cold winter evening, I stepped into the Kotpad adivasi textiles stall displaying shawls and saris in white and red, replete with animal and bird motifs at the Dastkari Haat Samiti Mela at Dilli Haat. Far removed from their traditional adivasi haats in Bastar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, were National Awardee-couple Jema and Goverdhan Panika. I was fascinated by the sophistication of the textiles and intrigued that they attracted both the adivasi and the urban consumer. How did this hitherto-insulated vibrant textile tradition of Koraput transpose itself to these distant urban settings? How are the weavers handling these varied markets and consequently, the altered design template? The coarse cotton yarn, ranging from 10 to 20 counts was woven into varied products by the tribals of the region, such as the tuval (towel), luga or paata (sari), dhoti, shawl etc. The Panika caste weavers employed a highly evolved weaving technique of three shuttle pit looms with extra weft patterning, looms of different sizes ranging from 15 to 52 inches, and a minimalist colour palette of natural dyes — white (colour of the bleached yarn), red from the roots of the aal tree (Morinda citrifolia), and black. Kotpad is one of the last few remaining textile traditions, which still use only natural dyes. Harvested in the deep forests by the Muria, Koya, Bhatra, Gadaba and Paroja and other adivasis, women of the Panika weavers’ families extract the red dye from aal roots. ...
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