Textiles

The colours and designs found on the textiles of people in and around Tawang are symbolic and vary according to the different tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. The use of certain kinds of clothes and ornaments is associated with the social position and achievements of the family that uses them. The designs on the fabric mostly reflect the landscape, flora and fauna motifs of the areas around the settlement. The patterns and motifs are geometrical and quite complex with their own symbolic meanings. Carpet-making is a speciality of the Monpa tribe, which weaves lovely designs with dragon, floral and geometric patterns. Though this started as a product to use in daily life, it has become a major occupation for several women today.

Textiles

Thangka Paintings

A thangka, also known as tangka, thanka or tanka, is a painting made on cloth. The literal translation of the Tibetan word 'Thangka' is recorded message. This art form is a highly developed and important medium through which Buddhist philosophy can be explained. Thangka paintings are not made on flat canvas like acrylic paintings. They are more like scroll-paintings where a picture panel is painted over a textile, which is then mounted on a silk border/cover. Generally, thangkas last for a very long time and retain much of their lustre if kept in dry places, away from moisture. There are many types of thangkas in terms of contents and designs. The subject matter can include Buddhas, bodhisattvas, goddesses, wrathful creature, humans, inanimate objects (stupas), monastic accessories, religious objects, animals, plants, flowers, etc.

Thangka Paintings

Weapons

Weapons have been an integral part of tribal lives of the state for centuries. They are meant for use in day to day tasks as well as a means of defence in times of war. Thus, a wide selection of weaponry is produced locally. Though some of them have now become obsolete, they have been replaced by modern and more innovative varieties. The Akas tribe is known for its bow and arrow, known by the names of tkeri and moo, respectively. These are used extensively during a chase and vary in size according to the user's requirement. The arrows that are used in hunting are bigger in size and are fitted with tips of iron and smeared with aconite poison. They are stored in a bamboo case called thouvou. On the other hand, the bows are usually hung over the shoulders.

Weapons

Ornaments

The craft of making ornaments is practiced widely in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Mostly designed by native tribes, they are made using various natural sources and products. Some of the materials used to make this jewellery that can be worn by both men and women are bamboo feathers, wild seeds, glass beads, beetle wings etc. Though many metals are used, silver and brass remain the most popular choice. The interesting feature of the jewellery here is its diversity. Though all the tribes use similar materials yet their ornaments vary in design and patterns and skill that are unique to each and every tribe. If you are visiting here don't forget to buy the bamboo bangles and ear ornaments decorated with pocker work designs that are made by the Akas tribe.

Ornaments

Bamboo and Cane products

Most of the tribesmen here make their own hats that are elaborately decorated and adorned with feathers of birds and tufts of hair dyed red. Besides, a host of other products are also made including baskets, bags, containers etc. The craft of making cane and bamboo products is strictly restricted to men and the most common products made are designed to meet the daily needs like baskets for storing and carrying paddy, fuel and water and vessels for preparing local liquor. One can also find a variety of rice plates, bows and arrows, headgear, mats, shoulder bags, and ornaments and necklaces made of fine strips of bamboo and grass. The Nocte and the Wancho tribes mostly use dyed cane strips for their headgear, waistband, headband, armlet, etc.

Bamboo and Cane products

Wood Carving

As the region is endowed with lush green forests, various kinds of wood is extracted to make diverse objects of daily use. The tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are very skilled in woodwork. The craftsmen involved in wood carving are known as Trukpa. A popular piece of hand carved furniture is Cho-tze, which is a low table open on one side for people to sit on while the other three sides are covered with wood panels that have carved figures of dragon, bird or flower pattern painted in vivid colours on them.The Monpas also produce various utensils of daily use from wood. Zan Shongbu, a shallow flat rectangular utensil used for kneading flour is made from a single block of wood by hollowing out the inside. Jandhong, a long cylindrical vessel made of wood with brass around it, is used for churning butter tea. For churning milk, they have Zob, which resembles jangdhong but is bigger in size. Sheng Tsumrong is a wooden mortar in which cereals and other edibles are pounded with the help of a wooden pestle.

Wood Carving

Paper Making

Paper making is an art in which the Monpas excel. Probably they are the only tribe in Arunachal Pradesh who know the art of making paper. The paper is made from the bark of a shrub called Dapne Botanical Papercia, locally called Shugu-Sheng. The papers produced by Monpas are said to be of very high standard in terms of quality. They use it mainly for religious purposes and most of their religious scriptures are written on handmade papers.

Many holy scriptures are written on ornate cardboard, consisting of several sheets of handmade papers pasted together, and varnished with a black pigment, upon which the letters are written in silver or gold.

Paper Making

Weaving

Weaving here is almost exclusively done by Monpa women. Girls are trained in the art of weaving from a very early age and the art form is handed down from generation to generation. The basic raw materials used by them in weaving are wool and cotton yarn. They weave woolen items of clothing, blankets, tents, etc., from yak hair. The woolen carpets woven by Monpa women are exquisite. By combining different shades of woolen yarn, they weave carpets with gorgeous designs of dragon, snow lions, birds or flowers on them. Equally sophisticated and artistic are their textile bags, which are made by combining five colours - red, yellow, white, black and green.

Weaving

Smoking Pipes

The Palibos tribe, in Tawang, is fond of smoking and makes intricately designed smoking pipes from wood and bamboo roots. It also procures metallic pipes through barter trade from its neighbouring tribes - Bokars, Ramos and Membas.

Smoking Pipes

Pottery

Monpas are very skilled at pottery. They make earthen vessels of various sizes that are used primarily for cooking, brewing liquor, storage of fermented cheese, etc. The products are exchanged for various articles or sold in cash. The Kanteng Village, located to the south west of Tawang township is famous for its pottery markets.

Pottery