Here is a love story for you. It is about Tangaliya.
Tangaliya is a 700-year old weave of Surendranagar, Gujrat. Sadly, it came into recognition only a little more than a decade ago.
White dots lighting up rich, dark fabrics. Beauty. Magnificent. Impressive. Traditional art that needs to be saved and savored.
Tangalia-The Love Story
Once upon a time, there was a shepherd boy of the Bharwad community. Young and handsome, he fell hopelessly in love with a girl from a different community. And his audacity? He went ahead and married her too, without the consent of parents from either side.
All hell broke loose. How could a Bharwad boy tie the knot with a girl from Dangasia, the weaver community? The newly wedded couple still tried their luck. They went to the boy’s house hoping to get the blessings of the upset parents after their wrath subsided. Alas, that was not to be. Literally, thrown out of the house, they got refuge, shelter, and love at the girl’s place.
Interestingly, he continued his sheep herding nonetheless also learned to weave from his in-laws family. The then started to weave the wool that he procured from his herding.
Like all legends, this too has another version of the love story. The other story goes something like this: post being rejected by the boy’s parents, he had no money to look after himself or his newly wedded wife. That is when the parents took pity on him and decided to strike a deal with him. They would give him wool and grains. In lieu of that, he would weave fabric and shawls for the Bharwad (shepherd’s) community.
This is how Tangaliya, the weave came into being. The name comes from the word ‘Tang’ or leg. The boy apparently then came up with thread weaves in the form of ‘dana’ and took shawl weaving to another level.
THE DANGASIA COMMUNITY INHABITING THIS REGION IS THE SOLE GROUP HAVING THE KNOWLEDGE OF TANGALIYA WEAVING TECHNIQUE.
Sadly, like most other handmade weaves of India, the power loom, the cheaper printed textiles have eaten away both their livelihood and moot interest in the craft.
Tangaliya is generally either used as a shawl or a wraparound skirt for women. It is most popular in Amreli, Botad, Dehgam, Wankaner, Joravarnagar, Bhavnagar, Kutch area and of course Surendranagar.
Tangaliya was the only source of income for the Dangasia, which they lost since the Bharwads, the main buyers of their product took to textile prints and machine-made garments as against the handwoven textile. Their work solely dependent on the barter economy. The Bharwads provided the wool, and the Dangasia wove them. In return of the fabrics, grains were given. It was a perfect synergy till a few years ago.
It is the same story as other dying arts of India. The weaver community can now be seen working on farms as laborers or have moved to closer cities in search of livelihood.
Raw Materials Used in Tangaliya
What started with wool, has now moved on to experiment with not just cotton but acrylic too. Market and client requirements force them to sometimes use a combination of these years. Of course, the genuineness of the craft is compromised but the Dangasia, are left with no options. These raw materials are mainly sourced from Ahmedabad and Surendranagar.
Traditional Colours Used
Customarily, the Tangaliya Shawls are made in the colors black, white and maroon colors. Mainly because the basic black and white came from the sheep and were transformed into shawls while maroon was primarily used for the wraparounds.
Tangalia Motifs and Themes
Interestingly most of the Tangaliya motifs have straightforward graphic compositions. The geometric patterns resemble delicate embroidery but are actually weaving.
The designs are inspired by nature, plants and animals and scenes from daily life. These include ambo, the mango tree, the feet of peacocks called pag, phandi, Chakalo, Piyali, Navdhari, aur Kangasi ka zhaad, Bajariya ni Jaadavi, Sitamadhi, tower ka zhaad, mor ki zhaad, haveli and a host of others.
But the most popular is the ‘Dana’ in the form of a ‘Laadwa’, or laddoo, a traditional all-time favorite Indian sweet!
Types of Tangaliya Weave
Ramraj is done on black fabric and is the brightest amongst all Tangaliya weaves-fuschia, green and vermillion colors are used to make the Danas, with woven zari borders.
Dhunslu, in contrast, has the least number of Dana work, in white and maroon and is worn by the elderly ladies.
Charmalia, with mainly white Danas and a few maroon ones, give a contrasting effect with maroon and black warp with a black weft.
Lobadi, or Ludi, consists of simple Dana work. It is worn mainly by married women, especially the newly married ones as a mark of respect to the elders and the male gentry in the house by covering their head and face. This woolen shawl is mostly made of off-white wool, which is later dyed in the auspicious red color.
What is so unique about Tangaliya?
The unique thing about Tangaliya is the ‘Dana’ work without a doubt. ‘Dana’ was used in other garments too like Dhabalo or Chamalia, Dhunsl, and Galmehndi, till the Bharwads literally stopped wearing them!
Present day demands have weavers making novel jackets, some stationary items, and home linen using Tangalia.
Had it not been for SAATH and NIFT timely supporting the cause of Tangaliya, it would have died a slow death with anyone barely noticing it and the love story of that young boy and girl would cease to be passed on generation to generation. You can read about the story of Babubhai, an ace Tangaliya weaver who with the help and support of Rang De, managed to revive his enterprise.
When Sareewaali-Preeti met Babubhai at his lovely home cum workshop, he explained in detail how in order to carry on the near dying art, he has gone beyond tradition and taught his daughter how to weave the 'danas' of Tangaliya. Sareewaali-Preeti (Nagarajan) with master weaver Babubhai at Surendranagar.
Isn’t it poignant that a 700-year-old craft is dying because this exquisite craft has to compete with mass production? Indian Artizans now works closely with this weave and is already in the process of bringing it closer to you.
Till the next post...