Live skills display draws crowds at Nagaland International Trade Expo
DIMAPUR — On the first day of the second Nagaland International Trade Expo, organised by the Business Association of Nagas (BAN), a live skills display captivated attendees. Chainsaw woodcarving, painting, loin loom weaving, and fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) sculpting took centre stage, drawing a crowd of onlookers admiring the artwork.
Among the artists, Leishisan KV from Senapati in Manipur, who has been using the FRP medium for the last 15 years, was working on a ‘Naga headhunter’ sculpture with his hands splattered in white paint.
While live-demonstrating his work, Leishisan proudly mentioned that the former Chief Minister of Nagaland, P Shilu Memorial Park project, was done by him.
With a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Bangalore, he started his enterprise ‘LTM Creation’ in Bangalore but was forced to come back to the northeast after the pandemic. When it comes to business in the northeastern region, he pointed out that people look for ‘good stuff,’ but many are reluctant to spend money.
Many people, he observed, do not know or value art. “I feel we have to be creative and do something for survival. Art is also a supplementary purpose. I would like to encourage the youngsters to learn the art to be financially independent,” he said.
According to him, the most challenging aspect of his profession is the unavailability of materials in the northeastern region, especially in Manipur, because of transportation and the time it takes. The FRP medium is very rare in the region, he added.
Twenty-four-year-old Khuvei Rong, who was also stone carving at the live display, said his parents were the ones who initially suggested that he take up the arts. He went on to receive 18 months of formal training in wood and stone sculpture from Bangalore in 2017, encouraged by his cousin Leishisan.
Describing his work as ‘exciting and interesting,’ Rong appeared engrossed in his work, carving a father and daughter figure out of stone. Stating that he was working on a realistic sculpture, he said the sculpture was conceptualised after he saw some images of a girl, which inspired him.
According to him, the most challenging work he has done was sculpting an angel during his training period, which took him about a month because of the detailing involved.
On the growth of their work in the region and home state, he said, “We are just starting, and not many people know about us, so we receive only about two to three projects in a year.”
Since they procure stones from Nagaland and not Manipur because of transportation issues, they face challenges in meeting customers’ expectations, he added.
Loin loom or back strap weaving, a traditional craft form used mainly by the Naga women to weave cloth, has been making a comeback in the market with people, especially the youngsters, embracing the culture of donning one’s traditional attire. Mhathiyilü Tetseo, a loin loom weaver from Diezephe in Chümoukedima with over 25 years of experience, made this observation.
Participating in the live skill display, Mhathiyilü noted that the loin loom lost its momentum some years ago, but the trend of wearing traditional attire is slowly picking up.
Mhathiyilü stated that she cannot use the power loom, despite the fact that it could make her job easier. The traditional back strap manual loom is more comfortable, she maintained, adding that there is a difference between the end products of the power loom and the traditional loom, with the latter providing superior quality.
“These days, even the youngsters are eager to learn the art of weaving. Through my live skill display during the expo, I hope that people will have more curiosity towards loin loom weaving, preserve the art, and not let the practice die but pass on from generation to generation, as we are known for loin loom weaving. Also in the state, the loin loom sector is dominated by the female,” she elaborated.
The ongoing NITex will be held daily at Senden Riju, located in Dimapur’s Purana Bazaar, and will conclude on January 22.