The handlooms of Arunachal Pradesh are world renowned for its striking designs and using indigenous organic materials for weaving various indigenous apparels’ for different occasions. The colour and design have their symbolic meaning among some of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Among 20 tribes and 100 sub-tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, the Apatanis are famous for weaving. According to one of the legends, the art of weaving was learnt in a dream from the goddess, Podi Barbi.
Weaving is a major industry in Arunachal Pradesh and is an industry predominated by the women folk who exhibit a striking sense of color and color combinations. Each sub tribe of the state which accounts to more than hundred, have their own matchless and fascinating patterns of designs. The tribal women weavers have venerable intelligence of elaborate colour combination. The most commonly colours preferred by the weavers are black, yellow, dark blue, emerald, and scarlet. A means of expressing and preserving their tribal identity, skills are passed from one generation to the next with care and enthusiasm. Though there has not been much external influence on the designs of the fabrics in Arunachal Pradesh there has been some borrowing of motifs from the neighbouring areas. The motifs, designs and patterns, however are quite complex and their symbolic meaning and usages are rather significant. Another amazing feature of the ancient art existence is because the tribal’s still prefer to wear ethnic dresses in this contemporary world of fashions.
In early days, natural dyes that have been extracted from different trees, barks, seeds etc. were being used in weaving but in the recent times natural dyes have been replaced by synthetic ones. The designs on woven cloths generally show geometric shape and vary in style from simple formal lines or band of lines to more complex and elaborate designs consisting of intricate patterns such as lozenges and diamonds. The use of certain kinds of clothes and ornaments is often associated with a family’s social position and achievements in the fields of hospitality and war.
The weaving method is still the old fashioned one, the apparatus is a simple reed loom and the actual weaving is performed with a semi-curved bamboo tube. Every house hold in the villages has their own indigenous weaving set. Though fly shuttle looms have been introduced in many places with the advent of modernity, the importance of the traditional loin loom and products made from it have not at all diminished.