The scenic, quaint valley town of Mechuka, or Menchukha, in Arunachal Pradesh's West Siang District
‘Arunachal Pradesh’ translates as the ‘Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains’ and the state has earned the nickname of the ‘Orchid State of India’ and ‘Paradise of the Botanists’, due to the thousands of species of orchids found growing in the rich soils of the land. It is part of the Seven Sister States that are only connected to the rest of India via the land of West Bengal. Sharing a border with Myanmar, Bhutan and China, the state of Arunachal Pradesh is enriched with the diverse cultures and traditions of up to 20 indigenous tribes on top of the various cultures of India itself. The state is home to up to 50 languages, dialects and sub-dialects. Ancient Hindu texts, Kalika Purana and Mahabharata tell of how the region that contains the state served as a crucial location for Hindu deities such as Parashuram and Lord Krishna.
The state is well known for its biodiversity, abundance of picturesque valleys and hills, the Idu Mishmi ritual and celebratory dance music and, particularly, woven textiles. The exquisite craftsmanship and artistic talents of artisans from the state are showcased in crafts varying from weaving to poetry to wood carving, among many others. Weaving is the most prominent textile craft where the majority of artisans are women. From the land that boasts over a thousand species of orchids, women have been inspired for centuries to incorporate beautiful colour combinations in their weaving – commonly scarlet, blue, green and black. Motifs that appear in the wefts of Arunachal Pradesh are quite distinct and a lot of repetition occurs within the internal overall design.
The traditional techniques of weaving are quite widely practised, owing to the state’s government setting up weaving centres that make use of traditional handlooms. Everyday articles, from shawls, jackets, blouses to bags and even loin cloths, the craftswomen of Arunachal Pradesh are applauded for their authentic creations.
Image: Quentin Talon and Mario Geiger