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Bid to save Naga handicrafts
IANS: Bangalore, 16 Aug 2008
Published on 17 Aug. 2008 12:08 AM IST
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Yanger Ao, a tribal craftsman from Nagaland, had never thought his wooden furniture would sell like hot cakes as far off as Bangalore. Ao is one of the 20-odd poor tribal craftsmen from Mokokchung, 162 km from Kohima, still practising the fast dying art.
The tribesmen make furniture, baskets and other items using Nahor palmwood and oak, taken from the forest in their area. The tools they use are also primitive.
Two designers, Aradhana Nagpal and Pooja Nichlani, seeing the potential of this Naga handicraft, have carried the work of these tribesmen to Bangalore, where the initial response to the traditional products has been encouraging. The organisers of the exhibition say: “We are happy with the response from the connoisseurs, who are quite excited to discover the little known craft works of Naga artisans.”
“We wanted to show the rest of the world how creative and artistic the traditional artisans of Nagaland are. Through the exhibition we wanted to encourage the few remaining craftsmen,” Aradhana, who also runs Dhoop, a popular home decor destination in Mumbai, told IANS.
“All their art works reflect indigenous history, culture and lifestyle of Naga people. But since the educated youngsters are hardly interested in carrying forward their tradition, the wood- and bamboo-based art works of Nagas are slowly dying a silent death,” added the 29-year-old designer.
“Nagas are a self-sufficient community. They create objects with ritualistic and aesthetic value. The time has come now to commercialise their art works to save them from extinction.” Aradhana said.
“I am happy that Aradhana and Pooja have taken the pain to popularise Naga art works in the metros. This will surely give a huge impetus to tribal handicraft,” Alam Longkumer, a Naga wood worker and a graduate from Delhi’s National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), told IANS on phone from Dimapur (Nagaland).
Naga village doors, beer barrels hollowed out of tree trunks used to store rice, wooden benches with animal and bird carvings, water troughs, beds, tumblers and bowls and various other items were on display at the exhibition.
“I have never seen such designs and craftwork. Nagas are highly artistic and create magic in wood and bamboo,” said Deepak Pandey, a bank executive, while appreciating a storage urn.

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