Noklak Masterpieces: Preserving Khiamniungan’s Craft Culture

BY | Friday, 20 October, 2023

Shongmo B

In a world where fast transition of time and  modern trends seem to be  taking up spaces resulting to our heritage becoming unsteady, some people still bears sensible thoughts making efforts to keep their fingers active and skilled whose motive is to keep their handiworks  alive , their workmanship well refined and polished .

The Noklak District Handloom and Handicraft Council  ( NDHHC) is one such Council that was established with a desire to revive the culture of  art, craft, handloom and handicraft in Noklak. With this vision, ‘Noklak Masterpieces’- the products marketed by NDHHC was created. Presently, the NDHHC has eight permanent members, each representing the ranges under Noklak. The members are skilled in different areas of expertise such as Eloniu, cotton, traditional gears and attires, bamboo cane etc.

“The Khiamniungans are skilled in numerous handiworks but unfortunately do not have access to links and connections to kick start their business independently,” says Khumo, President of NDHHC, an in interview with the Nagaland Tribune.

Understanding the lack of access, the Council gathered artisans and started a shop as an outlet which eventually paved way to boost the Khiamniungan community to promote their handicrafts.

Initially, these artisans formed a “Craft Council” and approached the District Administration. This initiative was accepted and appreciated by the District Administration following which the Noklak District Handloom and Handicraft Council (NDHHC) was officially formed in the year 2022 on January 15.

After thorough researches and having received positive response from the District Administration in Noklak, NDHHC managed to gather various artisans who were skilled in various indigenous crafts, refined their products and launched the brand name ‘Noklak Masterpieces’ on July 17, 2022. Noklak Masterpieces was officially launched by the former Noklak SP, Dr. Pritpal Kaur.

“With this brand tag,  we started sending out the items made by the artisans and many of them were marketed out of the District,” says the President who also informed that some of Noklak Masterpieces’ products have reached Delhi where Trifed from Delhi has empanelled around 50 items of Noklak Masterpieces.

‘We are concerned that these indigenous handicrafts will be lost if we do not pass it on’, conveys Khumo. Observing that crafts like the Eloniu Bag (bag weaved from stinging nettle plant) and cotton bag weaving is slowly losing relevance, Khumo is of the view, “This is the right time to teach the art of weaving them again.”

To address this concern, the council organised two trainings running for six weeks this year where it has trained over fifty artisans to enhance their skills in these indigenous handicrafts.

According to Khumo, the artisans initially felt what they started might not be important because of the lack of market linkages and lack of knowledge of government subsidies. However, with time and perseverance newer avenues have opened up. “We are able to take one step further,” expresses the President.

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In the future, Khumo is optimistic that Societies will affiliate and collaborate with them so that Noklak Masterpieces can be exhibited in Expos and expand beyond the District. At present, about 30 societies and 40 villages under Noklak District are affiliated with NDHHC which comprises of the diverse craftsmanship of the Khiamniungan tribe such as Blacksmithing, Earthen Pottery, Handloom and handicrafts.

Recently, Noklak Masterpieces won the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Awards 2022 under ‘ Economic Sustainability’ on October 17 which was awarded at the Capital Convention Centre, Kohima.  On achieving the SDG award, Khumo expressed, ‘We believe that they saw what is real and original. Today, the ‘right eye’ has seen us. The award means that the future has better avenue for us to strive for more.”

With its core belief and motto “To Preserve Craft Culture”,  the Noklak Masterpieces artisans continue to restore, safeguard and promote the rich intricate handicrafts of the Khiamniungan tribe in Nagaland.

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