In the Pursuit of Niyamgiri

Art history/ Historiography, Craft, Handloom, Art

In the Pursuit of Niyamgiri

Sethi, Pankaja

My love for textile craft brought me to Rayagada district of Odisha in 2006 to see the beautiful textiles (locally called as kapdagonda) and the Dongria Kondh women engaged in the making of it. This sacred world of Niyamgiri was my first craft yatra in Odisha which opened up several nuances about Dongria Kondh relation with the nature god- Niyam Raja (King of Niyamgiri). Fortunately that one day trip followed with three week workshop in Rayagada after two months (supported by Directorate of Handicrafts and Cottage Industries, Govt. of Odisha) with twenty two Kondh women from different villages. In spite of language boundaries, gestures and sign language gave us immense opportunity to interact with each other in person as friend. It was interesting to note how each of them from different villages in their gesture, approach, dressing and experience of outside world and inside world (outside world- I am referring to town or cities or places unfamiliar to Kondhs living space) reflected distinctive character and behaviour. The villages located closer to plain areas (low hill) such as Khajuri and Kurli interact frequently with the developing bodies, Dombo and other communities in their mundane life. Their manner of wearing kapdagonda (shift in wearing style and covering their upper part with blouse), adapting to external influences such as using products (such as applying fair and lovely crème) and humming Hindi and Odiya songs showed strong influence of external factors. Based on these observations, it segregated them from Ghortoli, Hundijali and Kadrakuma K...
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