Over cups of tea, Kua and Cigarettes, in broken English, Hindi Mara and Mizo, dotted with ample laughter, we had animated exchanges on what I’m doing in Saiha, who buys these fabrics, designs etc. Gesturing wildly and playing a kind of charades we tried to get our questions and answers across.
There were bags, pouches, neck ties and blouses slung on clothes lines all around the place , I was itching to know more yet strangely content as whatever was taking place was a good beginning.
For long while after the initial excitement had died down I planted myself at a window and watched the colorful patterns emerge from the loom, standing in stark contrast to the dry dusty and scorched land outside(monsoons would be such a respite). The tools used were made of wood , bamboo, deerskin, porcupine thorns etc.
There however were two young girls in the workshop though. They repeatedly came upto the older women when they got stuck with a patch on their loom. The younger girl was adamant on learning a particular design and older one explained in a laughing and halting English that they were both still learning and were excited about learning more and faster. I could relate to their impatience, I was also overwhelmed by the urge to understand better, what everyone seemed to be telling, to ask all questions i've been holding in, to get answers there and then.
Within a few days of our return from Chakhang, we were in Aizwal. We made the long pending trip to the state museum. The loin loom and the other implements displayed there were similar to the ones used in Chakhang. Nimesh and I went through each in detail and tried to understand what we could.
Sometime soon I tell myself, I’ll get down to reading and understanding more.
I realize now that as much as my queries are still largely unanswered I have found the first step in understanding more- what has been the best part of the deal is that- no book or research reading could have boosted my desire to learn and understand more about handlooms and the changes that have taken place with regard to weaving . A heartfelt thanks to the group I met in Chakhang.