"I find it fascinating that — on such a primitive loom — we can weave beautiful, unique textiles which cannot be created on any other loom."
Jesmina Zeliang began working with the highly skilled women weavers of Nagaland in 1992. "They work at home, weaving textiles by hand on the loin loom, and this is the source of income for many of them," she says. "I realized that their beautiful work could be adapted to contemporary designs and color schemes, and decided to help make them known and set up a marketing plan. It's been wonderful for all of us."
Zuthiu, who works with Jesmina, shares her story. "I was born in 1982 in Nagaland, India.
"I got married at a very young age. When my husband was unemployed, my mother-in-law taught me to weave on the loin loom and I used this skill to support my family financially. It was convenient for me to pick up this art because I can stay at home and work. Today I have about 20 weavers who collaborate with me. There are times when I attach the vertical warp threads to the kitchen window and weave while I wait for the food to cook.
"I simply sat next to my mother-in-law while she worked, and she taught me how to warp and pick up motifs without a graph. She taught me the technique of creating motifs with the help of bamboo sticks. I work with cotton yarn, available in the local market.
"I find it fascinating that — on such a primitive loom — we can weave beautiful, unique textiles which cannot be created on any other loom. The most challenging part is the weaving itself. It's very time consuming and require a lot of tensile strength, which increases the cost of crafting.
"I get my inspiration from the traditional fabrics of Nagaland. My mother-in-law helps me with warping the loom and my sister-in-law helps me by attaching tassels and fringe.
"We usually make clean and simple designs which can be easily woven and completed in a given frame of time.
"Most of the homes in my village need a supplementary income and weaving really helps the families of the artisans involved. All the weavers who work with me are empowered women who are helping sustain their families. I hope to send my children to a good school and build our own house after I'm able buy the land with the money I generate from my weaving arts."