Kerang: Bark Cloth of Gadaba Adivasis

in Module
Published on: 16 November 2018

Pankaja Sethi

Pankaja Sethi is a textile designer and research scholar based in Bhubaneswar. She has received three Small Study Research Grants from Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Victoria & Albert Museum (NTICVA) to do research on the Kotpad textiles and natural dyeing of al in 2009-10, the quilting tradition of Ganjam (2015-16) and the bark cloth of Mahima Dharma in Odisha (2017-18). She did one year extensive research work on Dongria Kondh Adivasi Textiles and Wall Paintings supported by National Folklore Support Centre-Tata Fellowship in 2012-13.

Kerang takes us to that period when human beings had a close relationship with nature, as bark is one of the earliest known examples of handmade cloth to cover the human body. Kerang is woven by Gadaba women on a back-strap loom to cover the body along with heavy jewellery around the neck and arms. The research illuminates several narratives related to the Gadabas’ material culture: how their local knowledge system created bark thread into cloth that imitates tiger skin and how this became a protective and sacred cloth. Development interventions have diluted the cultural architecture of the Gadaba community to a great extent. This module encompasses documentation through videos, photographs, narrative accounts and interactions in villages where Kerang remains are still visible.