Two or three generations back, all garments used to be woven on the looms at home. But nowadays most -if not all- of the handloom products consists of ceremonial dresses only. And except for priestly attire, even these ceremonial items can now be bought from private shops or government emporiums. That is to say that the craft of weaving is being gradually forgotten, although many ladies are still preserving it to date.
Colors dominating the weaves are dark-blue, orange-yellow, blue and red. In particular, red (either flame-red or dark-red) is the dominant color of several female ceremonial garments. In the past colours were obtained using various plant dyes from species such as tamin (Rubia cordifolia; red-orange color) and sankhii (Eurya acuminata var. euprista; brownish-yellow color). Indigo blue, which constitutes the dominant colour of male ceremonial garments, was obtained from a plant called yango, but I was unable to identify the botanical name of this species. Because the process of colouring was long and tedious, today all organic dyes have given way to synthetic ones. However the change from hand-spun and hand-dyed thread used in weavings to factory produced thread and synthetic dyes has modified the look -and perhaps also the quality- of the fabric. Not only are the colors obviously synthetic, being overly bright, but the thread is thinner and breaks more easily.
In olden days the range of handloom production for a daily use was limited for both men and women. Most of the garments were produced in various shades of the same basic beige or whitish color. Men invariably wore a thick short sleeves cotton jacket (jikhe tarii) and a loincloth (sarbe). Women wore a similar jacket (kente tarii), and a wrap-around black and white skirt (kente abi). In addition, both males and females used to wrap themselves into coarse cotton shawls (kente pulye, kente taser) designed with formal arrangement of yellow and blue lines and bands. During the coldest months of the year they also covered their body with thick home-made woolen coats (tongo). Wool has never been produced by Taniis but was bartered or bought from outside. Another popular coat (jilya pulye) of different shades was made out of coarse silk also obtained from outside.
Kente tarii and kente abi
Jilya pulye can be folded into two and wrapped around the body (left), or two ends diagonally tied across one shoulder (right). The middle portion of the cloth can be held tight to the body by means of a belt.
As one can expect, shirts and skirts for festive or ritual occasions bear more intricate patterns and are more colourful.
- niiji abi : a red and white cotton skirt
- bilan abi : a 3-vertical band (white, red and blue) cotton skirt
- niihu abi : a 3-vertical band (white, red and blue) cotton skirt with strip design called abi hete.
- chinyu abi : a 2- vertical band (black and white) cotton skirt used by older people, especially during Dree celebrations.
- bisiir abi : a black and white cotton skirt
- bisi-bilyi : a red skirt reserved for ceremonial occasions
- piisa lenda (literally 'pine-road') : a below the knee length red and blue skirt, highly decorated, traditionally associated with young and unmarried girls.
Ceremonial dress worn by both males and females
- pyamin pulye : a fringe cotton shawl worn on ritual or important occasions. This cloth is traditionally given to the new groom during the engagement ceremony (mabo-inchi)
(Photo source : Ahinsajain's
gallery on Flickr)
(Photo source : Ahinsajain's
gallery on Flickr)
Ceremonial costume of nyibus
- abyo : piece of woven cloth covering the head of the priest.
- jikhe tarii : cotton jacket richly decorated with indigo motifs, mostly of losenge shape, with fringes at the bottom.
- jig-jiro : a simple dark-blue fringe shawl with yellow stripes, especially worn during Myoko and Murung.
- jilan pulye : a fringed shawl with intricated motifs, the most expensive piece of the ceremonial priestly attire. Jilan is required in most important rituals performed at the time of Myoko, Murung and Subu tanii.
(Photo source : ignca)
Jig-jiro (left) and jilyan pulye (right) (Photo source : Ahinsajain's gallery on Flickr)
Jig-jiro, jilan, etc. are also used by the general public during collective ceremonies such as penii, mida, subu tanii, murung, supung, etc. Modern versions of jilan, mostly without motifs, are now manufactured and sold for that purpose. But decorated jilan are not used in daily life, they are spared only for important occasions. Decorated jilan bear specific and codified patterns, especially losenges, but also double spirals which are typical of this cloth:
A closer view of jilan pulye motifs (Photo source : Ahinsajain's gallery on Flickr)
Commercial versions, which are woven on a different type of loom (see previous post), often replicate these motifs in a simpler form. Compare for example the double spiral motifs above and below :