Hands of Naga artisans speak at Hornbill Festival
What are the images which come to mind when you hear the word Hornbill Festival?
For those who have been to this festival of festivals in Nagaland the images will be many and varied. But none will deny the experience of colour and chaos, the varying taste in food and drinks and to cultural aficionados a return to a time never to return.
Maintaining this link with the past in a small but consistent manner are the handful of Naga craftsmen who have made a livelihood honing souvenirs based on traditional motifs and designs.
Hornbill Festival showcases a blend of cultural displays under one roof of the seventeen odd tribes. As much as the festival is to display Naga culture to the world the occasion is equally an opportunity for the Nagas themselves to reconnect with their own and take away from the festival lessons of valour, honesty and hardwork associated with the ancestors.
Artisans like Talinungba Longkumer, a self employed man from Dimapur has been a regular participant at the Hornbill Festival for the past twelve years. He is registered under the handloom industry of Nagaland but till date he has yet to receive any from the department .But the this has not deterred. Talinungba. He prepares months in advance by preparing his products ranging from the variety of Naga daos, spears, shields, cane trays, handmade watches, cups, baskets, flower pots and different traditional attires and accessories of all Naga tribes.
His wife S. Apokla brings her experience as an active participant in different exhibitions across the country and in North Eastern cities such as Shillong, Guwahati, Itanagar, Jorhat, and Golaghat. For this couple the Hornbill Festival is when they make up the sluggish market through out the year for traditional crafts in the state
As many as 25 stalls with handicrafts can be seen at the festival of which 7 to 8 participants are from Dimapur. Exorbitant rates of transportation is keeping many more artisans from displaying their wares at the annual affair.
The festival has also given rise demand of traditional attires which entrepreneurs like Wapangla have focused on. She exclusively sells Ao traditional attires for the last five yeass. Her products include Ao traditional shawls, pullovers, Ao traditional wrap arounds, and menswear in jackets and ties.
The band of artisans with their small iudustries are providing employment to weavers, tailors, embroiders, carpenters,
Velasuzo Shijoh from Diezephe, Dimapur a 2010 Governor’s awardee has been a participant for 13 years for distinction in Art, Music & literature.
“Exhibitions encourage craftsmen and our items give us business throughout the year, but lack of government funding, minus the initial financial support to set up our businesses, is a setback for us. We want genuine buyers of our art-crafts and this can only be possible through proper marketing of our products. The government needs to exhibit these works not only through outlet but also through national and international trade fairs which can be an investment”, said Shijoh.
Talking on the locals’ response and his products, Shijoh adds that customers are hard to please as people are very choosy and they prefer items which are in trend. So he usually makes items on current trends for a positive response.