Shillong, Aug 7: The departments of Arts and Culture and Textiles in collaboration with NESFAS, concluded the “Khneng Embroidery Competition” on the occasion of National Handloom Day on August 7 at Mustoh village, East Khasi Hills.
The competition was part of the India@75 and Meghalaya@50 programmes celebrating the indigenous and artistic tribal dexterity in weaves.
The event was participated by 8 weavers from Mustoh village.
Gregory Chyne, headman of Mustoh community, opened the event and Frederick Kharkongor, Commissioner and Secretary, Textiles, was the chief guest.
Frederick congratulated all participants of the Khneng embroidery competition and invited the artisans to work hard together with the textiles department to make Mustoh the “first traditional embroidery village of state.”
The art of Khneng Embroidery is the only known form of embroidery in the state and can be traced back to 200 years.
Phrang Roy, founding Chairman, NESFAS, in 2014 highlighted the importance of saving the vanishing art and in the years that have followed, Khneng embroidery has been revived by NESFAS.
“Although NESFAS works with communities to defend the indigenous food systems, the organisation also realised the importance of understanding the culture and tradition embedded within the community. For Mustoh, it is the Khneng,” said Pius Ranee, Executive Director, NESFAS, on why the organisation has been closely working with the Mustoh community to revive the indigenous art form.
Over 5 years ago, Victory Synrem was one of the only three custodian Khneng embroiderers in Meghalaya.
As the Meghalaya government acknowledged the unique art, Victory expressed her gratitude towards NESFAS for assisting to revive the Khneng: “We now have 18 women who are skilled in Khneng embroidery. All this is because of NESFAS. They helped us keep the art and tradition of Khneng alive. They helped in facilitating trainings for us to improve the technique as well as small scale marketing.”
Alex Mukhim, SDO, Sohra Sub-Division, said an eri silk shawl with Khneng embroidery was presented to the Union Home Minister during his recent visit in July. “We know that it is a small yet significant step for us to have our traditional art from being recognised and promoted.” he added.
After the conclusion of the competition and the prize distributions, the participants, along with the guests visited the training unit at Saikarap near Shella.
Dipica Lyngdoh, zonal officer, department of textiles, who will be overseeing the training programmes to be organised in the near future, shared her hope that the collaboration between the weavers, embroiderers, NESFAS and department of textiles would go ahead in full capacity.
The next step of the joint collaboration is a project focused on capacity building of the potential local weavers and embroiderers. This is to increase the number of artisans, strengthen the supply and value chain, and to keep the artforms alive.
Darling Marwein, Engineering Supervisor, department of textiles encouraged the community members to “make use of the training centre for all necessary purposes – weaving, textiles, marketing, embroidery, and more.”
The department of textiles is actively working on a GI tag for Ryndia (eri silk) and the same is in plan for Khneng.