|The showroom in Calcutta. Telegraph picture
Nagaon, Aug. 29: Traditional garments of the indigenous communities of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, the two hill districts of Assam, will soon be available in the international market.The new initiative taken by the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council includes involvement of popular export firms of India for online publicity, a strong network between buyers and producers and quality management at the grassroots.
The US, Switzerland, Canada and Japan are the four destinations targeted by the council to where these garments are going to be shipped. The items include shawls, richa (kerchief), choihongthor (jacket) and mekhela sador. The export of these garments will take place through a Calcutta-based showroom.
A source in the council handloom and textiles department today said that despite a demand for the items in the international market, buyers from outside refuse to come to the hill districts for poor law and order situation. That pushed the department to open the showroom in Calcutta where all items are made available for buyers.
“We have already tied up with Trade India and other agencies which will make online publicity of our Calcutta stall. Entire works related to production, running the showroom and final shipping are entrusted to a Dima Hasao-based society,” the source said.
The chief executive member of the Dima Hasao autonomous council, Debojit Thaosen, inaugurated the showroom in Calcutta on August 26. According to report, items worth Rs 40,000 have already been sold in the last three days.
“Last year, three agencies — one each from Russia, Japan and Canada — called us and expressed their willingness to visit Haflong to place orders. However, they cancelled their programmes when they heard about frequent troubles in the district. They suggested to us that we market from Calcutta,” Thaosen told this correspondent today.
According to him, six years ago a Swiss agency purchased such garments on a large scale from a Haflong-based society, but trouble in the district put paid to that trade link.
Karbi, Dimasa, Zeme Naga, Hmar, Kuki, Rengma, Hrangkhol, Beiti are the indigenous communities who live in the two hill districts of Assam. Each of them has its own socio-cultural identity and their garments reflect that. Popular items of the indigenous communities which are attractive for everybody include choihongthor of the Karbis, shawls of the Nagas and the Kukis, mekhela sador and richa of the Dimasas.
“The items are doubtlessly unique and attractive. But for reasons like a lack of market link of weavers and their ignorance and backwardness as well as law and order problems in the hill region since 1990, these garments fail to reach the international market. The new showroom in Calcutta might bridge the gap between weavers and buyers. Buyers will get their requirements without visiting Haflong,” said Dima Hasao assistant director, handloom and textiles, P. Zeme.