Nettle Weaving by the Chakhesang Nagas

Nettle Weaving by the Chakhesang Nagas

in Video
Published on: 05 December 2019

Tarini Manchanda

Tarini has made environmental films for WWF-India, the UN, PSBT and several NGOs. Her films have been pitched at Docedge India, and the Union Docs Summer Intensive in New York. She runs a filmmakers workshop called Docu Charcha for independent filmmakers. As a filmmaker and researcher, Tarini likes to take her camera to the mountains and listen to people’s stories.

Nettle Weaving by the Chakhesang Nagas

Among the 16 major tribes of Nagaland, the Chakhesang Nagas are one of the most progressive. They represent people belonging to three language groups – Chakri or Chökri, Khezha and Sangtam and derive their name from the initials ‘cha-khe-sang’. Earlier known as Eastern Angamis, they amalgamated in the year 1946.

The Chakhesang Nagas are primarily settled in Phek district in the south-eastern part of Nagaland. One can also find them in Kohima, the state capital and Dimapur, the commercial capital. A hilly district with thick vegetation and lush flora and fauna, the district gets its name from the word “Phekrekedze” meaning watchtower.

Weaving is a common practice and means of livelihood among the Chakesang. A walk through Chakhesang villages will typically include scenes of women weaving in the open spaces outside their homes. The weavers prefer using the portable and space-saving loin loom or body tension looms due to the hilly terrain. Constructed using sticks of varying lengths and thicknesses, the loom can be easily set-up, dismantled and stored. This video details the preparation of thevo (nettle), from fibre to yarn and on to cloth. The nettle is not cultivated, it is picked from the wild. The weavers in this video are members of the Leshemi Women Society, Phek District, Nagaland filmed at the Hornbill Festival of 2018.

Video created by Tarini Manchanda, illustrations by Bhavya Kumar, text editing Ketan Kumar, ideation and support Neha Paliwal.