At a Glance Government People and Culture Tourism in Arunachal Pradesh Biodiversity Directory

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Art and Craft



Myths and Fictions

Social Structure

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Arunachal Pradesh is a land of beautiful handicrafts comprising wide range in variety. All the people have a tradition of artistic craftsmanship. A wide variety of crafts such as weaving painting, pottery, smithy work, basketry, woodcarving etc. are found among the people of Arunachal Pradesh. 
From the point of view of art and culture the area may very conveniently be divided into three zones. The first zone includes the Buddhist tribes i.e. the Sherdukpens and Monpas and also to some extent the Khowa, Aka and Miji group; the Membas, Khambas, the Khamtis and Singphos. The people of the first one make beautiful masks.They also periodically stage pantomimes and mask dances.

Making of beautiful carpets, painted wooden vessels and silver articles are, however, the speciality of the Monpas. The people of the second zone are expert workers in cane and bamboo. The Apantanis, Hill Miris and Adis make beautiful articles of these materials, which speak eloquently about their skill in handicrafts. The second cultural zone occupies the central part from East Kameng in the west to Lohit in the east. The third zone is formed by the southeastern part of the territory.

They also weave articles that are in common use in their daily life. The shawls and Jackets of the Apantanis, the Adis Gale and shoulder bag and the Mishmi's coat and shawl are symbolic of the high weaving talents and artistic sense of the people. 
Weaving is the occupation of the womenfolk throughout, the territory. They are very particular about colors and have a beautiful sense of colour combination. The favourite colours are black, yellow dark blue, green, scarlet and maddr. Originally they used natural dye but now-a-days they switch over to synthetic dyes available in the market. The designs are basically geometrical type varying from a formal arrangement of lines and bands to elaborate patterns of diamonds and lozenges.These designs are sometimes enhanced by internal repetition and other decorations.
A few of the woven products that deserves mention are Sherdukpen shawls, Apatani jackets and scarves, Adi skirts, jackets and bags, Mishmi shawls, blouses and jackets and Wancho bags and loin cloths.Although fly shuttles are now being introduced particularly in the government run weaving centers, the traditional loin looms are still in use and the genuine textiles are products of these looms. A lady weaver
Cane and Bamboo work :
Cane and bamboo industry of Arunachal Pradesh is of very high standard. Most of the domestic requirements are made of cane and bamboo . Hats of different sizes and shapes, various kinds of baskets, cane vessels, a wide variety of cane belts, woven and plains, elaborately woven brassier of cane and fibre, bamboo mugs with carvings, a variety of ornaments and neckless are some of the products that deserve special mention. The technique of basketry is same throughout. The two basic techniques are twill and hexagon both open and closed.
Arunachal basketery are beautiful not only because of the fine texture but also because of the unusual shapes. Many a baskets have pleasing forms. There is definite correlation between the shape and the topography and climatic condition of the region. The angular and curvatious nature of some of the baskets have definite functional value.
Carpet Making :
Carpet making is the speciality of the Monpas. They weave lovely colourful carpets with dragon, geometric and floral designs.
A typical Carpet
The choice of colour and the colour combination is unique. Though originally they weave carpet for domestic use, it has now become an item of trade and a major occupation for some ladies. Alongwith increase in demand, production has also been made in large scale.
Wood Carving :
wpe7.jpg (5089 bytes) Wood carving is a tradition with some of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. The Monpas, Khamtis, and Wanchos occupy significant place in this art. The Monpa wood carver make beautiful cups, dishes, fruit bowls and carve magnificent masks for ceremonial dances and pantomimes.

Wooden masks are also carved by the Khambas and Membas of West Siang. The Khamptis make beautiful religious images figures of dancers, toys and other objects. Very beautiful wood carvings are made by the Wanchos of Tirap. In fact the Wancho area is the Chief center of wood carving. Wancho wood carving was earlier associated mainly with head hunting and human head dominated everything that they made. But now-a –days veriety of subjects are included. They are invariably free standing. Minute observation on the details will reveal that the Wancho wood carver had deep sense of proportion, inspite of the fact that they give much attention to the head.

Of late departure from the traditional fixed form is noticed in many carved figures. Symmetrical postures are replaced by assymetrical ones, relief works are experimented in various themes. There is no doubt that change has penetrated deep into the Wancho wood-carving.
Ornaments :
Ornament making is another craft widely pactised in Arunachal Pradesh . Besides beads of various colours and sizes blue feathered wings of birds and green wings of beetles are also used in decoration. The Akas make bamboo bangles and ear ornament which are sometimes decorated with pocker work designs.
Most of the ornaments are made of beads as the tribes are very fond of it. While some people just hang strings of beads round their neck, others such as the Noctes and Wanchos weave them into very attractive patterns. The Wancho girls particularly are very expert in bead work. The designs and colour combination are superb. One Wancho girl received President’s award for master craftswoman in 1985 for excellent bead work. Besides beads work the Wanchos make ear ornaments from glass beads, wild seeds, cane, bamboo and reed. Various ornaments of coloured glass beads hold a special fascination for the people of Arunachal Pradesh.  Silver Ornament wore on Hairs

Silver ornaments are a speciality of the Mishmis. The Idu Mishmi women wear silver fillet necklaces with lockets and beautiful earring. The Sherdukpens and the Khamtis at one time were also renowned for silver work. The Apatani women wear nose plugs made of cane which are an exception with the other people of the territory.

Other Crafts : 
Paper makings, smithy work, carpentry, pottery and ivory work are other crafts practiced by the people. The Monpas make paper tree. These hand made papers are used for writing religious prayers and hymns. Smithy work is almost universal in Arunachal. Most of the requirement of tools and implements are made by the people themselves. Some of the blacksmith of Arunachal Pradesh are expert in gun making also. The Adis were once expert in casting in brass. The Nishing smiths still make brass ornaments, dishes and sacred bells. Pottery is the occupation of the women folk. This industry is practiced by the Noctes, Wanchos, Nishings and Apatanis.
The people of Arunachal Pradesh resort to hunting in their leisure to supplement their food. The weapons commonly used and made by them are spears, bows and arrows and daos. The arrows sometimes have poisoned tips and are carried in quivers of bamboo tubes. Cross bows and guns are also used. They also have indigenous ways of snaring and trapping animals and birds.
Like hunting, fishing also forms a subsidiary occupation. For fishing they make various traps, big and small, with or without valves. Fishing nets of different types such as hand nets, cast nets etc. woven by the people themselves are also in use.
These are some of the traditional crafts of the people of Arunachal Pradesh. There are many more minor arts such as doll making, ivory work etc. practiced in difference parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
With a view to help developing arts and crafts and to substantiate the livelihood of the people a number of craft centers have been set up and local boys and girls are imparted training in these centers. The rich heritage of arts and crafts of Arunachal Pradesh is sure to add colour to the cultural heritage of the country.
Mass production and infusion of new elements in the arts and crafts of Arunachal Pradesh have not added much for the cause of revival of these traditional crafts. The revival of traditional arts and crafts belongs to the people and survive on their patronage and good will.
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