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Odisha State Tribal Museum

Kapdaganda Shawls: Pride of the Dongria Tribals

Settled between a region of thickly forested slopes, profound canyons and mesmerising streams, dwell the Dongria Kondh clan. They get their name from Dongar, signifying ‘hill’ and the name for themselves is Jharnia: defender of streams. The main livelihood of the tribe is to cultivate the slopes of the fertile hills, collect their produce, and pray offerings to the mountain god ‘Niyam Raja’. The profound adoration that the Dongria have for their divine beings, hills and streams is clearly visible in each part of their lives.

Dongria Tribes

The Dongrias are tribal community residing in the Niyamgiri hills of the Rayagada and Kalahandi districts. The Kapdaganda shawls that the women of the community adorn are a symbol of their rich legacy of social and ethnic character. Dongria Kondh workmanship and art mirror the significance of the mountains. The triangular architect of the Niyamgiri mountains finds prominence in the Kapdaganda shawls.

Techniques Used in the Fabrication

Woven with brilliant craftsmanship, Kapdaganda is set up by spinsters. It is also a token of affection for their sibling and father. The grayish coarse fabric utilized as crude material for Kapdaganda is secured from the Domb.

The structures are weaved on the fabric by a needle utilizing strings. It’s entrancing to comprehend the social and ethnic estimation of these indigenous materials. Dongria accept that red, green and yellow are the most favorable hues and these are the hues utilized in the Kapadagonda too. Red means blood, penances and retribution while green represents their fruitful mountain environment. Yellow represents the beginning of the Kondh. It additionally speaks to thriving and abundant turmeric cultivation in the areas.

Dongria tribeswoman weaving shawl
photo by Rakhi Ghosh, courtesy VillageSqare.in

As observed with most indigenous societies, the Dongria too have unmistakable adornments, tattoos and haircuts. Ladies wear various rings through their ears and three through their noses, while young men wear two nose rings. Dongria young ladies wear various clasps in their hair and rings and globules around their necks.

Significance of the Kapdaganda Shawls

During the ceremonial dances, if a boy hurls his wrap at a young lady, it means that he needs to wed her. The young lady either acknowledges the shawl or tosses it back. On the off chance that she acknowledges, the couple meets and weds with the assent of their particular families. Now and again, the kid makes the engagement proposition by grabbing endlessly the shawl from a young lady.

The themes and examples delivered on it are even on either finishes of the material. This bit of material isn’t just a workmanship, it additionally speaks to the social setting of the Dongria Kondh people group. The young ladies make this wrap just during their recreation hours and it reflects long periods of ability that has been passed down from ages.

Domb Tribe: The Helping Hand

The strings are coloured by the shading necessity. The Dongria utilize turmeric, bean leaves and wild seeds to derive yellow, green and red colour separately. To keep the shading from blurring, they would heat up the banana bloom in water and plunge the hued strings in.

The material for the wrap was typically gotten in return for paddy or vegetables or even a cockerel from another tribe called Dombs, who live close by. Shockingly, these practices have gradually blurred away because of changing cultural structures just as large-scale manufacturing of materials and yarn. The various examples on the Kapadagonda are representative of the Dongria culture.

Stitching ptterns
courtesy shakmachanongmaithem.blogspot.com
  • Watta“: The three straight lines running at the base of the fabric speaks to the fanciful limit mass of their residence. It represents standardized savings and assurance from the abhorrent powers.
  • Karlikanna“: The hatchet shape configuration represents the edge of a hatchet which shows forcefulness, vengeance, vitality, power, regional battles and demonstrates that they are the genuine defenders of their “Dongar” (mountain).
  • Keriwatta“: The structure is gotten from a tamarind leaf. Being woods inhabitants, everything took in by them from the timberland is socially communicated in this plan.
  • Kuddilinga“: The three-sided configuration represents Niyamgiri hill, the residence of Niyam Raja, their family god.

The hand-woven themes in the wrap are mostly various sorts of lines and three-sided shapes that mirror the significance of mountains for the network. The three-sided state of mountains repeats in the plans painted on the dividers of the town place of worship just as in the vivid Kapdaganda they wear.

Problems Arising for the Dongria Kondhs

Dongria Kondhs now need to battle for their ethnic weaved kapdaganda shawls, which is being reproduced by duplicitous creators that have no connection to the tribes.

The kapdaganda shawl of Dongria Kondh tribe that represent their rich legacy, culture and character is presently being duplicated and being sold out online by different clothing locales.

In spite of the fact that the ethnic shawl represents their way of life and custom, young ladies are done looking into wearing it, which used to be obligatory for them.

To keep duplication from merchants, the area organization has chosen to make a public market for the item in a joint effort with the handloom division. The activities look to guarantee that creativity is be kept up and no machines are utilized in setting it up.

Ram Hial the last Domb weaver
Ram Hial the last Domb weaver, courtesy New Indian Express

In addition, the base cloth required for the shawl is now in short supply, as there is only one weaver remaining in the Domb tribe (according to news reports in 2019). The government has tried to run a training camp for weavers but the results were disappointing. Substituting the source cloth material has also not been successful as the quality was too different.

The State Government is fighting to obtain a Geographical Indication (GI) Tag for Kapdaganda shawls but the battle is ongoing. Amidst rising demand, this artform is getting highlighted, but is in actuality sinking as the tribals cannot meet the demand.

Let’s hope that sanity prevails in the government and a comprehensive plan is launched so that this artform does not go extinct.

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