Given India’s immense diversity, it is not an understatement to say that our country is a treasure trove of traditional arts and crafts. Every region, state and even individual towns and villages boast of their unique heritage of local crafts. Whether it is textiles, painting, pottery, metalware or even jewellery, every place in India has something exclusive. The same is true even of the land of the dawn-lit mountains aka Arunachal Pradesh. The eastern most state of India has indeed much to offer when it comes to native crafts be it cane weaving, basket making and even handlooms.
During my visit to Arunachal Pradesh last April, I had a chance to visit the Crafts emporium centre in Ziro. A unique land that is inhabited by the Apatani tribe, Ziro is the headquarters of Lower Subansiri District. Located close to the main road, the craft emporium is an insightful place where one can witness the making of various handicrafts like carpets, fabric and articles made from cane, wood and even metal.
As you enter, the first segment is the handloom section where one can witness the making of Gale which is the traditional attire of women here akin to a skirt. Women wearing these colourful skirts which are woven at homes on backstrap looms is a common sight in the state.
The emporium houses several looms and the way the local women operate it by hand is a fascinating sight to watch. One can even witness carpet making here which again is a complex task yet done deftly by the womenfolk.
There is a metal and wooden section as well where several artefacts like pen stands, figures of birds, trees etc are made. There is a full fledged furniture section too.
No writing of North eastern crafts is complete without the mention of cane weaving and basket making which is an intrinsic part of their culture. In Arunachal too, baskets are made for the use in the kitchen, storing livestock and in farming. Making of cane furniture is also a prominent craft here.
The Crafts centre has a small retail section where you can shop for these items which form for perfect souvenirs and gifting ideas.