An initiative of Narrative Made, The Textile Atlas preserves a record of disappearing Asian crafts with their reflected cultural stories, and provides a resource platform for both the commercial industry and academia.

Making of: Lotha Weaving in Nagaland, India

Making of: Lotha Weaving in Nagaland, India

Words by Emily Lush, Photos by Nagaland Online and Philadelphia Museum of Art, Video by Wild Films India

Nestled in northeast India close to the borders of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China, Nagaland is a mountainous state home to 16 distinct hill tribes. Loom-woven body cloths play an important role in identity building and distinguishing the members of different clans and villages.

The Lotha Naga in Longsa village, Wokha District weave lotha – vividly coloured, geometrically patterned shawls that when worn, denote a man or woman’s social status in the community. The weaving of shawls, scarves and sarongs is done exclusively by women on loin or body tension looms, which are commonly used throughout northeast India. The Naga loom consists of a simple back-strap with a continuous horizontal warp. Basic tools such as warp beams, lease rods, healed sticks and beating swords are fashioned from debris, making the loom inexpensive and highly portable.

 Made in Faridpur District, Bangladesh or West Bengal, India; Second half of 19th century
lotha-weaving-in-nagaland-india3
lotha-weaving-in-nagaland-india4

Cotton, wool and increasingly, rayon are all used for weaving the long, narrow shawls. Stripes, squares and bands of black, red and white colour are typically used; some designs are woven over with patterns depicting animals or human figures, symbolised by a circular shape. The finished lotha is warp-dominant and has a ribbed texture.

 Made in Bangladesh, Undivided Bengal, Asia; c. 1980-1990
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Making of: Batik in Batik Tohal Workshop, Pekalongan, Indonesia

Visit to: Miao Tin Gimp Embroidery in Zhanliu, Guizhou, China

Visit to: Miao Tin Gimp Embroidery in Zhanliu, Guizhou, China