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25 Jul,2022 09:46 PM, by: Manna Mili
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"There are two men inside the artist, the poet, and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman. " Emile Zola

It is true indeed - one has to be determined to become a craftsman. It needs a lot of creativity, skills, and hard work.

Arunachal Pradesh, which attracts many tourists from around the world with its scenic beauty, is also home to an infinite number of talented craftsmen. Hence, it is also known as the land of beautiful handicrafts. The state has 26 different tribes, and all the tribes have their own cultural variation  of artistic craftsmanship, which are beautifully reflected in a variety of crafts such as weaving, painting, pottery, smithy works, basketry, woodcarving, and many more. To explore the art & cultural heritage of Arunachal, we can break it down into three categories that are represented by the indigenous communities. 

The first category is represented by the Buddhist community such as the Sherdukpens, Monpas, Khowas, Akas, Mijis, Membas, Khambas, Khamtis, and Singphos. The people of these communities are very good at making masks, carpets, painted wooden vessels, and silver articles.

The second category are the tribes of Apatanis, Hill Miris, Mishmis, Galos, and Adis, who are masters at making shawls, coats, jackets, shoulder bags etc. They are known for weaving articles that are in common use in their daily lives.

The Wangchos and the Noctes of Tirap, Longding, and Changlang form the third category. They are known for weaving beautiful bags, clothing materials, and ornaments, especially using goat’s hair, ivory, boar’s tusks, beads of agats and other stones, as well as brass and glass. In this blog, let us know about some of the common crafts the people of Arunachal Pradesh make.

  1. Weaving: The women of Arunachal Pradesh are very talented at weaving. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that weaving had remained the primary occupation of women throughout the region. They usually use natural dyes, but nowadays, due to availability, they prefer synthetic dyes, which they can easily get in the market. The designs are basically geometrical types, varying from a formal arrangement of lines and bands. Some of the designs that are famous and liked by many people are the Sherdukpen Shawl, Apatani Jacket, Adi Skirts, Wangcho bags, and loincloths.

  2. Cane and bamboo work: People of Arunachal mostly use handcrafted items in their day-to-day lives made out of cane and bamboo. Some of these daily-used products are hats of different shapes and sizes; several kinds of baskets; cane vessels; a variety of cane belts; bamboo mugs with carvings; ornaments; necklaces; and many more. The beautiful Arunachal basketry made of cane and bamboo is known for its fine texture and unusual shapes.

  3. Wood Carving: Wood carving is a tradition in every tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. However, the Monpas, Khamtis, and Wanchos are more popular in this art. The Monpas, Khambas, and Membas are famous for carving magnificent masks for ceremonial dances and pantomimes. The Khamtis make beautiful religious images of figures of dancers and other objects.

  4. Ornaments: Ornament making is another famous craft that is widely practised in Arunachal Pradesh. Beads of various colours are the most commonly used elements to make ornaments. Feathers are also used in ornament-making. Many of the tribe members just hang strings of beads around their necks, but the Noctes and Wangchos weave them into very attractive patterns. The Wangcho girls, particularly, are very famous for their beadwork. As a matter of fact,  a lady from the Wancho tribe has also received the President’s award for master craftswoman in the year 1985 for excellent bead work.

To promote the art & crafts of the state and to substantiate the livelihood of the people, several craft centres have been set up by the government of Arunachal Pradesh, where the local boys and girls can learn crafting. The richness of arts & crafts of Arunachal Pradesh surely adds colour to the cultural heritage of the state as well as the country’s.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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