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The Bamboo Journey. ' . !'

Bamboo Weaving of West Tripura

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Sponsor: G>evelopment Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India

2001 Students: Rashmita Bardalai Usha Prajapati Guide: Aditi Ranjan .... :;~....

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Outreach Programmes NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DESIGN Paldi Ahmedabad 380 007 India

PAGE Acknowledgements




Bamboo a tradition


Bamboo the material


Bamboo in Tripura


Economic Structure


Product and Processes


Process of Bamboo splitting


Looms and Weaving


Craft based Industry


The Local Craftsmen and Entrepreneur


The Process of Learning


Marketing and Its Channels


Design Speak


Appendix (Tripura)






National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001


... ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank all the State and the Central Government officials who made this documentation possible.

eShri M .S.Bhattacharya Director, Handloom Handicraft and Sericulture, Government of Tripura eShri H Bhowmik, Joint Director, Handloom, Handicraft 'and Sericulture, Government of Tripura eShri K C Das, M .D, Design Extension Centre, , Government of Tripura eMr.j A.K Hota, Handicraft Promotion Officer, Marketing and Service Extension Centre, % D.C (Handicrafts) eMr. A.K.Das, Investigator, Marketing and Service Extention Centre, % Development Comm issioner (Handicrafts), eMr.K.P.Saha, TA (craft), Marketing and Service Extension Centre eRina, craftswoman, Marketing and Service Extention Centre eMr.Ashim . Kr. Raha, Technical Superintendent, BCDI eShri.M .C.Das, Mastercraftsman, BCDI eSubhrendu Bikash Roy, National Awardee arid Mastercraftsman, M .D of Nalchor eMr. Kalipada Chakravarty, M.D, Churilam Government training Centre, Churilam, WestTripura eMr. Ranjit. Das, M.D, Majlishpur and Mohanpur • Mr.Jayanta Das, MD, Surbhi Tant Sh ilpa Samabaya Samiti, Agartala eNilanjana Deb Barma, Designer, Design Extention Centre. ella Sen, Design Extension Centre Purbasha-the Stat e Government Empori um

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

The Craftsmen: eRathis Deb, Craftsman, Jogendranagar, West Tripura eSunil Roy, Craftsman,Jogendranagar eNibaran Debnath, Craftsman, Entrepreneur Majlishpur eGovernment Training Centre, Churilam, West Tripura eMohan Das, Craftsman, Churilam eGaurango Nomo, Craftsman, Churilam eBinod Noma, Craftsman, Churilam

Non Government Organizations for their support eShri Rathiranjan Bhowmic (President), Tripura Handicraft Development Samiti (THDS) ePartho Chakravarty, THDS eGita Chakravarty, THDS eParbati, THDS eMr.Jayanta Das,MD, Surbhi Tant Shilpa Samabaya ~ Samiti, Agartala eShri Mridul Debnath, Banashree, eBhajan Sharma, Handicraft Purchase Centre of Purba, Aralia, West Tripura eMakhan Bhowmik, Tripura Shree Welfare Society, Majlishpur eMrs. Bina Deb Barma, Secretary, Adivasi Bekar Mahila Samity, Agartala

Weavers Service Center

Special thanks for making our journey possible to Agartala eMr. L. Bora, Aditional G. M, Aerodrome Operation; N.E. Region eMr. S.D. Burman, Airport Authority of India, Tripura eMr. Avdhesh Kumar, AAI, Tripura

And for their help eMrVTulsidas, Chief Secretary, Tripura eMr.S.K.Pandya, Deputy Conservator of Forest.Agartala eRajshree Jatri Nivas, Circuit House area, Agartala .

We would specially like to thank Mr.S Ghosal; Chairperson , Outreach, National Institute of Design for giving us an opportunity to do this project. Ms Aditi Ranjan for her expert help and guidance all through our documentation, and .Mr.M.P.Ranjan for guiding us and giving us valuable feedback and Errol Pires for inputs in photography. Sushant C.S., Deborah Zama and Richa Ghansiyal for being a support and a big thanks to all the people of NID who helped us along the way, specially Ms. Mayura Ingle, Mr. Banerjee, Mr. Bodiwala, Catherine Aberneithie, Hemant Savle , Surendran Nambiar, Rawal bhai, Himanshu Patel, Bhavsar bha i, Shuch i Mathur and all our colleagues .

eMr.K.K.Beviskar, Weavers Service Centre, Agartala eMr. T. Chakravarty, Techn ical Superint endent, Weavers Service Centre, Agartala eAnd our f riends f rom the Reang commu nity.




INTR "Things came before people. People came before words. Tall, green and nameless, Bamboo walked down centuries And crossed continents In time to stand there waiting Naked of language, When the first people came To make the first village"

The bamboo craft in Tripura (originally called Tui-para), can broadly be classified into constructed,

loom-based, interlaced, and fine handicraft products. The loom-based products are a combination of textiles and bamboo. The study and documentation of the looms, materials and processes undertaken by the National Institute of Design is part of a larger project, in keeping with the greater view of developing handicrafts in a sustainable manner.

Farrelly, David; The Book of Bamboo.

"The music of people is made on flutes and drums. The music of earth sings through a thousand holes ... " Bamboo has been said to be indirectly responsible for man's own evolution. From centuries it has been one of the materials to stand by the natives all their lives. It is the most commonly used element without which life cannot be imagined. It's property of being able to use every part of the plant; its ability to grow fastest is one of the reasons why it is so invincible to humankind in certain parts of the world . The North Eastern part of India is one such region where bamboo is a part of everyday life. In Tripura, a day starts and ends with bamboo. Besides the original tribal inhabitants of t he state, the bamboo craft is also practised by the migrant!!. In fact it is seen that it has been popularised by t he migrants outside the state to take a stand in the intern ational market.

The purpose of this study is to document the existing looms related to bamboo mat weaving, raw materials and processes in Agartala, Tripura. So much a part of life, bamboo has created industries in every household where everyone from a child to an old grandparent is adept in this art. This craft has been in existence for ages but now these Government and Internationally funded projects are an effort to rekindle the spark of innovation and deep understanding of form and structure exhibited in the traditional bamboo and cane crafts of the North East India.

There have been many projects undertaken by the Central and State Government to encourage craftsmen finan cia lly and morally and to promote this age-old craft . Th e office of the Development Comm issioner (Handicrafts) has been undertaking a Bamboo and Cane Development Project for North East India .

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Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001



Bamboo is so much a part of everyday life in Tripura that life without it cannot be imagined. Easy availability is one reason why this material is so widely used. Also, each part of the bamboo plant can be utilised for different purposes and products. It is prominent in its use as building material from flattened bamboo and for making products of daily use as storage or fishing instruments from split bamboo. The elaborate use of bamboo is an integral part of the culture. In some tribes, the umbilical cord of the babies is cut with a knife made of bamboo. Again the dead are laid to rest on bamboo beds. Thus it is seen that the whole life of a native starts and ends with bamboo. It is also included as a food item; the shoots are eaten. The culm is used as a container where the nodal wall forms the base of the hollow cylinder. Bamboo

A Tong house.

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baskets are used to store rice, used for fishing, rice beer is drunk in bamboo mugs, the fences are all woven out of bamboo, there are bridges made out of it and their houses are also made of bamboo. The Puran Tripuris live in ' Tong houses' or pile houses on hilltops. Poles support these bamboo huts, situated on a raised platform about 5 to 6 ft above ground. This is a means to avoid wild animals. The houses seldom contained more than one room. Their traditional garments are woven on traditional loin loom or backstrap loom, which is a very simple device made of a few bamboo stems. Bamboo is also used as decorative item and associated with religious practices of the tribal communities. During Garia Puja which is performed on th the 7 day of balshak (April) two deities, Kalla and Garia are worshipped~ In this puja, the top end of a bamboo is bent in a particular manner to assume the image of the deity. The image is then framed into a bamboo barrel and enthroned 1 0n a platform. It is believed that the propitiation of the , deity would make the people happy and prosperous. It is a community festival. There is dancing and rejoicing afterthep0a. During this festival there is sacrifice of cocks. This is popular among the Tripuris and the Reangs.,

Weft insertion in the loin loom

Loin loom made of bamboo.

There is another community festival where four or five villages join together to celebrate the occasion. Here, people gather by the streamside, pare three pieces of bamboo into beautiful flowers, the villagers then build a temple with bamboo in the middle of the stream and the ageless rituals take place amidst joy and splendour. In this festival sacrifice of goats and buffaloes are done to save people from epidemics.

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Woman carrying bamboo basket.

Music also flows through bamboo. The melodious bamboo flute called the' sumu baanshl accompanies the folk songs of Tripura. Folk songs depict a many sided picture of the people, its social, ritual and religious structure. The folk literature is very rich though it is only a dialect. The simple village people express their joys and sorrows, imagination and love through songs and tales. It is said that Tripuri mothers give instructions to their daughters and their son-in-law through songs. Moral lessons are imparted to the youth and children.

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Bamboos are tall grasses belonging to the tribe 'Bambusae'. The stems, which are called culms are cylindrical, woody and joined. Some have hollow stems and some are solid. The stems vary in diameter from 12 mm to 300 mm and go upto 30 metres in height. One very interesting thing to note is that every part of the bamboo plant can be utilized as a product in itself. The Culm:

the bamboo groove

Bamboo culms are cylindrical stems. They have maximum diameter at the base and are tapering at the top. The parts in between nodes are called internodes and are hollow from within. Branches and leaves grow out of the nodes. The stems are in some cases erect

and in some climbing. The culm sheath protects the shoot during growth as they are composed of a tough fibrous material. The cylindrical bamboo culms make ideal natural containers. The various shapes and sizes depend on the diameter and the internode length of the different species of bamboo. The nodal wall forms the base of the container. The natural wall between the base and wall of the internode ensures that they are waterproof. The Rhizome: Bamboo culms grow out of underground stems call!=d rhizomes. Fresh culms can grow out of buds at the base of a mature culm without an intervening rhizome. It is very hard and solid and can be carved. This property is being well used different ~mages are carved out of bamboo rhizomes and used as items for decorative purposes. This part is used very creatively where the root hair is used very effectively in making toys and animal figures.

the rhizome sculpture

The Node: The distance between two nodes varies from species to species. These nodes provide the only connection from one side of the culm to the other. The length of the node plays a very important role in the selection of a paricular bamboo species for a

particular product. A product where the node is used very effectively is the culm container where the nodal wall forms the base of the hollow cylindrical intenodes. Another product is the Angami Naga bamboo spoons used for drinking rice beer and porridge preparation from bamboo mug. A bamboo culm is shaped so that one nodal diaphram is retained. A thick split extending from that node is shaped to form the handle and this split is bent slightly away from the culm for convenient handling.The lower part of the node and diaphram are shaped by scraping with a dao to create a soft rounded form. Thus necessity brings creativity. The node length is also important because only some bamboo with greater node length like the Do/u and Paura are used for weaving screens and mats. Moisture content: The moisture content of the culm varies with the season and the age of the culm. The base of the bamboo contains more moisture than the upper part. The younger bamboos contain more moisture than the older ones. Young bamboo, which contain more moisture are preferred for splitting because once the bamboo dries, it cracks and loses its flexibility. Flowering: It is believed that flower is inauspicious on a bamboo tree. This is supported by botanical facts according to which bamboos generally die after flowering once in their life. Also gregarious flowering of bamboo causes famine. In some species, flowering happens once in three years and in others annually. Growth: Bamboos are one of the fastest growing plants. The shoots grow to their maximum diameter as soon as they are above the ground. The culm attains the maximum height within four to five months. Gradually it hardens in two or three years and attains maturity in around five years. Monsoon is the time when bamboo shoots grow fastest.


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In Tripura there are around 14 species of bamboo.


Local Name 1. Konkals baansh

Botanical Name Bambusa affinis

Walking stick

2. Barak baansh

Bambusa balcooa

Furniture, as pillars in house construction

3. Dolubaansh

Neohuzeaua dullooa

Woven screens, room dividers

4. Bari baansh

Bambusa polymorpha

Flower vase

5. Paura baansh

Bambusa teres

6 . Rupalbaansh

Dendrocalamus longispathus

7. Kali baansh

Bambusa nutans

8. Mritinga baansh

Bambusa tuluda


9. Makhal baansh

Bambusa pallida

Mats, chopsticks

10. Bosai baansh

Bambusa spp.

Fishing rods, roof structure,

11 . Pecha baansh

Dendrocalamus ham iltonii

12 .Mull baansh

Melocanna bambusoides

. Mats Baskets

1)Konkaisbaansh: They are a solid bamboo species. The entire bamboo is yellowish green in colour. Cross section of the bamboo shows a very small cavity. Nodes are not very far apart. It grows upto 20 to 22 ft in height. It is used for making fishing rods and walking sticks.

2) Barakbaans/r. This is found all over Tripura except high hill areas. Sometimes it reaches upto 50 to 60 ft in height. Diameter is around 5 to 7 ft. Cross section of a younger bamboo has more cavity than an older one. Culms are glossy and dark green in colour. It is very strong in nature and used for building purposes.

Houses and fences, baskets, mats and all kinds of craft products Barakbaansh used fo r the framework of the house.

13.Bom baansh 14. Kallyai baansh

Neohuzeaua dallooa Oxytenanthere Nigrociliata

Baskets, mats, chopsticks Bu ilding material, baskets

Barak is mainly used for the framework of kutcha (temporary) houses built in rural as well as urba n areas and also for constructing ra ised platforms. It is used for pillars for house structures. Sometimes people also collect dried leaves of this species for fire.

3)Bombaans/r. Maximum height of t his bamboo is 45 to 50 ft and diameter is around 4 .5 in. Cross section has wall

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.:. 2001



thickness. Bamboo is green when young and becomes straw coloured when matured .The culm becomes brittle when old. This is good for making fences and ropes. It is also used to make bamboo splits for mats and chopsticks; it is less priced than the makhal baansh. 4) Makhal baansh: It grows in moist places but not in high uplands. They are tall and attain more than 45ftin height. Diameter is around 3.2 inches. Mature bamboo is smooth and olive in colour. They are used for making house fences, baskets, ropes, mats and chopsticks. This bamboo is priced higher than Bombaansh.

6)Mulibaansh: Mulibamboo grows allover and is found in plenty in natural surroundings. It is one of the most widely growing bamboos in Agartala as well in the whole state. It spreads fast. It grows straight attaining more than 25 ft and has slender culms. Everywhere it is used as fences around houses. The outer sheath is straw coloured.

Paorabaansh in mat weaving

5)Mritingabaansh: It grows where there is more water. Cross section at the base of a young bamboo shows a small cavity. It is stronger than Muli bamboo and has more wall thickness than Muli Bamboo. It takes around 5 to 6 months for it to grow. It is also used in house construction. It is used for making chatai or mats. Makhalbaansh used for house and the doors

Muhbaansh fences

7)Paorabaansh: This bamboo also grew wild and in plenty but now it is cultivated by some people only. It grows in moist and shady places. It is strong and tall and attains a height of around 55 ft. They are fast growing shoots and are also edible. It has shorter node length compared to Dolubamboo. It is used in plenty in certain villages wnere it is found to make different products like woven mats, basketry items, room dividers and various other items. It is also used to make ropes.


used for making baskets

8) Dolubaansh: It is mostly found in natural forests and grows in moist soil. These bamboo are tall and attain a height of around50 to 60 ft in height. Many of them are not straight. The nodes are tender and so it is easy to split them. The thickness of the wall is less in this case and the nodes are far apart. So they are used to weave bigger mats that are otherwise not possible from other bamboo. It is also used to make ropes.

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EC The entire economic structure of Tripura is based primarily on agriculture, supplemented by crafts as a full time or part time activity. Due to its peculiar geographical location and lack of infrastructural facil ities for the development of other industries, Tripura mostly has industries in the traditional sector specially handlooms and handicrafts. In the earlier days people used to produce articles of bamboo and cane for their domestic use. Bamboo is a part of their everyday lives without which they cannot imagine their life. It is used almost everywhere and everyday. Bamboo and cane craft is a household industry in Tripura like weaving. The ancient rulers of Tripura were great patrons of this craft. The Rajas of the state patronized this craft by importing talented craftsmen from the neighbouring places. The abundance of raw materials from the rich forests within the state is also a contributory factor for the development of the craft. But according to publicised sources the industry suffered a setback with the downfall of royal patronage and the cane and bamboo crafts as it exists today in Agartala is of only recent origin. In case of nontribals, bamboo is transported only by male members but among the tribals both male and female folk collect bamboo .

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Bamboo craft as a fu ll time activity

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Products and processes National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001


PRODUCTS Bamboo products prevalent in Tripura can be categorised in four broad heads according to the production using bamboo splits. a) Loom-based products b) Interlaced bamboo products c) Constructed products and d) Fine handicrafts

Screens: Machine split bamboo 1mm to 3.5mm thickness or hand split bamboo woven into cotton or nylon warp . Room dividers: woven panel mats assembled to make screens

loom . Nowadays frame loom are also being introduced to the craftsperson. Interlaced Products: These products can be divided into two main categories-

The basic material for all the products is the mat, which is traditionally woven on the pit loom or the frame

Loom-based product is the combination of textile and bamboo material where the percentage of textile and bamboo material varies. It includes bamboo splits being woven on the pit looms and frame looms from which different products like table mats, panel screens, side mats, decorative pieces like fans, trays and others are being developed. Bamboo splits of varying thickness are woven into cotton or nylon warps. Interlaced bamboo products are when bamboo splits are interlaced to form various products. It can be divided into two kinds one where bamboo is made into fine splits with the help of tools to produce baskets or mats. Mats are again shaped into different products. This category includes a variety of basketry products, fish catching instruments, products for domestic use, decorative products and ornaments.

Frame Loom used in weaving mats

1) Split bamboo: products used for domestic use, fish catching instruments and storage. 2) Strips interlaced to form a mat and then shaped into products.

Loom based products: Loom based products would include the following : Dining mats: Bamboo strips woven into cotton warps. Panel screens: Woven bamboo screens leaving dent gaps which are cut through to make panels. Trays: woven bamboo mats formed into trays Bags and Hand fans : Woven bamboo mats made into different products.

Basketry products: Marketing baskets Flower baskets Waste paper baskets Vegetable baskets Baskets for carrying and keeping cattle and for Domestic use Loom based products: mats

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Dala- round winnowing tray Dola- storing rice Kula-winnowing fan Chalni- sieve Tukri- basket for carrying earth, paddy etc. Jhapi- rain shield Fruit tray Tray Khasa- basket for keeping chicken Shampa- bag for keeping fowl

Fine Handicraftsl Ornaments These include those items either displayed or sold through the emporia Decorative trays Hand fans Lamps Flower baskets Mats Furniture Small framed mirror Earring Finger ring Necklace Bangles Hair clips

Bamboo necklace

Bridges Fences Gates Doors and windows Roof Walls

Interlllel:!d bamboo product: Tukri Bamboo fence

Fish catching instruments

Constructed handicrafts: These are flattened bamboo strips interlaced to form mats, walls, roof, used whole and split and bound with rope or wire. They include the following :

Palloo Chai Anta Jhakoi

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Nationa l Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001


first passed through the stand and is kept in a positon that enables the craftsman to sit on the wooden handle to keep it firm wh ile splitting the bamboo. The handle of the Dao is rounded and is made of wood and the rest of the body is a thick metal blade that is sharp on one side. The Stand: The stand is made of three wooden slats, the structure of which looks like an A. The thickness of each slat is 1in.x1.5 in. The Pidha. The Pidha is a slightly raised platform on four legs. The whole structure is made of wood. It is around 6in high.

Hand splitting of bamboo (no;e: Dao,Stand)

The entire craft of Tripura is pivoted in the technique of bamboo splitting. Splitting of bamboo can be carried out in two ways, splitting by hand and splitting wand by machine. Hand splitting, which require a few basic tools demands intensive skill. But production is very low as compared to machine splitting . Introduction of machines for splitting of bamboo has increased the production of splits and the products made out of them. Craftsmen prefer kachha bamboo or green bamboo because it is soft due to moisture content. Today they have also started treating bamboo with certain chemicals . Treatment with chemicals is done to prevent attack from termites and fungus.

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Tools: There are three basic tools for hand splittingThe Dao The Stand The Pldha. The Dao. This splitting tool is a billhook called a dao. There are two kinds of daC15 used, Hle boti dao and the haath daD. The boti daofunctions without the stand as it has two metal supports. The haath dao is

The process of Hand Splitting In the first stage of splitting, the bamboo is cut according to the length of the node and the outer covering which is hard and is removed. Earlier a round bamboo was sliced at an angle and the sharp edge was used for cutting the umbilical cord of babies. But it caused tetanus problem because of unhygeinic conditions and so it has been stopped. In the outer green part the culm fibres are tight. So the craftsman removes the hard layer by scraping it away. In the second stage, bamboo is sliced always in two equal parts from the lower side and then sliced further till it comes to its required thickness. Before splitting it further into finer stripes its direction should be such that each stripe should have its outer edge hard and the inner soft. The outer hard part is the sheath or the green part of the bamboo. This splitting makes the product long lasting because each strip contains both the softer and the harder part. For faster splitting, some craftsmen split the bamboo into thinner splits from the thicker end while the other end is kept joined. Then they use their hands to complete the ssplitting and separating the splits.


When the splits are required to be flat, they are held at the sharp end of the dao with a pressure of the thumb, and with the other hand the split is pulled . This helps in the bamboo fibre to be scraped off thereby making it finer and thinner. In case round splits are required, this is not done.

Outer part of bamboo


Central inner part of bamboo

Inner part of bamboo

The making of fine flat strips

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For the interlaced products such as baskets and other such products, bamboo strips have a width of .Scm to1.Scm are used. For the loom based products where finer strips are required, the same bamboo strips are further split in perpendicular direction. These fine strips are in stick form having a cross section that is a quadrangle. For the fine handicraft products made for display and marketing in the Emporia both fine flat split bamboo and rounded bambo splits are required depending on the product. And for the constructed handicrafts, flattened whole bamboo strips are used to make mats, roof, doors, windows, bridges and other architectural construction .


(1) The Stand

(5) Scraping the outer sheath

(4) Bamboo cut to the node legenth

(3) The Pidha

(2) The Dao




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The process of splitting bamboo manually

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A variety of sections or splits that are extracted from the cu lm, each to suit a specific purpose: (left to right) A: Longitudinal half B: Longitudinal quater C: Thick splint 0: Fine radial split E: Fine tangential outer split F: Fine tangential inner split G:: Wide inner split H:, Wide inner split I: Wide outer split.

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Machine splitting of bamboo is a very new concept in Tripura. The machines that are procured from Taiwan are expensive and are found in only two places of Tripura as yet. One of these places is the Common Facility Center (CFC) which is a State Government run organization and the other is Tripura Handicraft Development Samiti (THDS) which is a private entrepreneur helped by Government funds. Machine splitting is a fast way to get bamboo split in a considerable quantity in a variety of thickness ranging from 1mm to 3.5 mm in diameter. Another advantage is that these splits are of even diameter and have a circular cross section that is the demand of the export market.

of water 1kg of boric acid is mixed. The bamboo is immersed in it for a period of 24 hours. After that it is taken out and is dried in the shade for the next 24 hours. Process of splitting 1) First the bamboo is cut to a certain

The Blade radial splitter from the front

Sizing the bamboo

bamboo through the Blade radial splitter and when the bamboo comes out from the other side, it is divided into as many numbers of splits that the blade has. This disk The Blade radial splitter from the back

Treatment of bamboo .

Treatment of bamboo In the products made for the export market, bamboo is treated with certain chemicals before splitting. But when products are to be made for the local market, bamboo is not subjected to any treatment. This varies the cost of the final product. At the CFC, bamboo is soaked in a mixture of boric acid and water in the ratio of 1:60 i.e. in 60 litres

measured length. This length varies according to different species of bamboo. The machine has the measuring devise, which assures the uniformity of length and the circular saw blade, which cut the bamboo. 2) Next, here bamboo is split radially,the number and the sizes can be controlled by changing the cutting tool. Bamboo to be split is placed in the machine manually. One end of the bamboo is fitted between blade radial splitter and the chuck, which is a metal disk. The Blade radial splitter can have 4, 8, 12 and 16 blades. After the bamboo is fitted onto it, the chuck pusbes the



4) Circular rotating blades finish the rough and uneven surface of bamboo splitsThis width sizing and planing machine divides each split into two equal parts. It separates the hard outer green covering from the bamboo split. This operation is carried out by passing a single split at a time through the machine. This feeding is done manually The hard outer covering is then dried and later used in the furnace while the rest of the bamboo split goes for further splitting .

Separation of the outer green part of the split bamboo

5) For finer splitting, the bamboo strip is inserted in the stick making machine, which splits the bamboo strip further according to the size of the dais blades. The size can vary from 1mm to 3.Smm . The blade lies between the roller and the sander.ln this splitting generally the bamboo dust gets clogged so the cover on the machine is removed


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Stick polishing machine Side view of finer stick making machine

moves with speed in order to allow the bamboo to pass the cutting edge with force. The split bamboo get collected on the table.

3) There is table between this splitting machine and the next machine. It is used for keeping the thick splits before being passed into the next mach ine.

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6) In order to remove the unwanted fibres and to make the sticks smooth it is kept in a semi cylindrical container with slits inbetween. The pulley gives a continous swinging movement, which helps in polishing the sticks.

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The heating chamber from the back

The heating chamber from the front The sticks tied in bundles

7) The sticks are then tied in bundles and cut on the stick-sizing machine where circular saw works to finish the edge and cut the sticks into uniform size. 1

8) Then it is put into the dry heating chamber for around 12 hours. The temperature goes upto 100 C. The heat is obtained by burning the bamboo dust and the waste outer covering. The bamboo sticks are now ready for weaving on the pit looms or the frame 100ms.They are avliable in diameters of 1.0mm, 1.Smm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3mm and 3.Smm. Stick sizing machine

A bundle of bamboo sticks ready for weaving


Looms and Weaving National Institute of Design, _~I~.lTledabad, 2001 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _--=:...:.-24

E VING Weaving is a method of interlacing a series of threads with one thread to make a surface or a fabric. The threads can also include rigid material. There are always two distinct sets of yarn involved: (1) the warp, a set of yarn all spread out parallel to each other and held in tension. (2) the weft, an independent yarn, which is, interlaced perpendicular to the warp. It need not be necessary that both sets are the same material. Whether one uses the most primitive loom or a multi treadle loom the basic weaving process is the same. The process consists of 1. Organising the yarn from hanks to bobbins which are ready for warping 2. Spacing the warp so that there are correct number of ends per inch 3. Tensioning the warp. Unless tension is applied weaving cannot take place. 4. Lifting alternate warp threads to form a shed through which the weft can pass through 5. Inserting the weft 6. Beating, so that the weft lies beside the previous weft. 7. Keeping the width of the weaving constant. The PIT LOOM in Trlpura The Pit loom is the earliest known treadle loom to be used in India. The loom consists of two rollers one for the warp and one for the cloth . The weaver could advance the warp and roll up the finished cloth. There is a pit to accommodate the weaver's legs and the pedals of the loom. The harnesses are suspended from the frame above the loom. The pit loom is the most widely used loom in Tripura and is used to weave bamboo split mats in a cotton or nylon warp. Tools: Taant (the loom) Shana (reed) Shala (bamboo weft)

The Pit Loom as seen in perspective

Shana frame (beater) Suta (yarn) , Maku ( to pass weft yarn) 80 (Healds)

Parts of the loom: The basic frame Reed or Shana Mudra (Beam for let off and take up actions) Shafts or 80 frame Healdsor 80 Pedals

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Material: Bamboo or wood Metal Bamboo or wood Wood Metal Wood

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Pre-warping process:

The same warping wheel is used for the more than one warp at the same time. For one loom, the length of the warp can be more than 1Smts.

1) The yarn procured form the local market at Agartala is in a hank form. 2) Bobbins are made on the Charkhaor spinning wheel . 3) Warping is done on the warping beam . 4) The warp is rolled onto the warp beam or the let off beam. S) The warp ends are drafted with a reed hook and dented through the reed. 6) After this it is rolled onto the cloth beam or the take up beam and weaving is carried out.

The warping wheel

The spool rack

Warping tools: Warping wheel Bobbin stand Reed Healds Phurni (reed hook) Sholas (sticks) Warping: When dealing with long warps it is essential to have large spools or cones onto which the yarn can be wound . A bobbin winder called the charkha is used to wind the spools from hanks bought from the local market and a spool rack (or creel) to hold the spools or bobbins after they are wound. .On the spool rack, rods are passed through the bobbins and the rods are passed through holes in the frame structure. The arrangement of the bobbins depends on the warp rhythm . Count of the warp yarn depends on the weft (shala)th ickness of the bamboo splits. If thicker splits are used as weft, heavier count is required in the warp, if thinner splis are used finer yarn

National Institute of DeSign, Ahmedabad, 2001

is required as warp. The heald frame and reed both are kept opposite to the spool rack behind each other supported by a wooden stand from below. Each alternate warp end is passed through the heald eye and the ones in between are left as they are in between the healds. This is done to separate the warp ends from each other so that it is easier while drafting on the loom. After this, denting is done so that the threads remain in sequence. Denting is 2/dent. All the ends ' are tied together after denting and then it is wound on the warper. The ends are knotted and hooked onto a peg one side of the warper which is the starting point of the warping beam. The warping wheel has 8 sides pivoted at the centre. Each side measures Y2 metres. One complete round makes 4mt of the warp length . Draft ing bef o re wa rping


Tensioning of the warp: The warp tension is achieved by attaching one end of the warp to the warp beam at the back of the loom and the other end to the cloth beam, which provides for cloth storage at the front of the loom. While winding the warp on the let off beam or the warp beam, sholasticks are rolled along w ith the warp to keep the warp in tension . Shola is a lightweight and spongy natural material widely used for making ornaments and decorative items in the Bengali community. These sticks hold the warp and keep the tension equal throughout all the ends. Between th ese two beams the warp runs

up and over two more horizontal beams called the back beam and the breast beam placed at a convinient height for weaving.

Parts of the Pit loom: The pit loom consists of different parts. The parts and functions of each of them are as follows :

Drafting and denting: The next stage before weaving starts is drafting and denting wh ich depends on the design and the warping pattern. Drafting through the healds is done with the he lp of reed hook. The reed is chosen according to the count of the warp thread. Denting is carr-ied out according to the design already decided.


Denting Side view of the Pit loom (1) Cloth beam (2) Back beam (3) Warp threads (4) Shafts (5) Beater (6) Weaver's seat (l) Bhardiya instrument (8) Warp beam (9) The pit (10) Pedals ' (11) Shaft separator (12) Pulley (13) Weight


The warp beam for take up action, which is nea r the weaver, is supported by a wooden structure called the stand by the weavers too. The dimensions of the stand is as followsIt is 13inches in height, with a thickness of 2x4 inches. 1 inch from top it has a groove where the" Mudra" or the beam for take up action is supported .

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1 The stand supporting the warp beam

The cloth beam is called "Mudra" and this is used for the let off mechanism. This is also made of wood and is shaped like an ear. This has a hole where the beam is inserted. It is 12 inches in height.

There is a smoothened round bamboo suspended from above by the frame of the loom. This bamboo acts as a pulley. The cord connected to the two shafts is looped over the pulley and each of the shafts is connected to the pedals. The pedals are inside a pit. The pit is dug 14 inches deep, the length and breadth being 26 inches and 21 inches respectively. It accommodates the pedals and the feet of the weaver and is just below the loom . The rear unit serves as the seat of the weaver. One end of tbe pedals is connected to a wooden plank 15 inches in length, 2.5 inches wide. It is slightly sloping, the height of one side being 2.5 inches and the other being 1 inch. At the centre of this are the two wooden pedals at a distance of 1 inch from each other. Each of the pedals is 2.5 inches w ide, 11 .75 inches in length and 1 inch in height. The cord from the stlafts is attached t o each respective peda l and this holds the other end of the pedal up.

The shafts (bo frame) are tied to two cords at the two ends (for balance), which are looped over the round bamboo pulley. The frame is made of wood and the healds (called bo) are passed through a metal wire, which passes through holes in the frame to support it. The healds are made of metal. The reed is held within the reed frame . The reed frame is made of wood and the reed is made of metal and the whole frame called doth,; hangs from the wooden structure of the loom.


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There is a thin bamboo stick on which a weight (usually a brick) is attached with a string and th is is connected to the warp beam . There is no particular name to it , it is sa id to be a .. bhar diya" instrument, which means Mudra supporting to apply we ight.This the cloth beam bamboo is suspended by another rope from the f rame. This, when pulled loosens the warp tension i. e. let off actio n t akes place . Th is enables the weaver t o adjust t he t ension of t he warp from the weaving position.

National Institute ~De s i g n. ~ h me d aba d. 200 1






~ The pedals

The shafts being supported by pulleys and attached to the pedals



The Pit loom in plan view








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A weaver weaving on the Pit loom






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Cloth beam Back beam Warp threads Shafts The Pit The seat Bhar diya instrument Warp beam The beater

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A thin strip of bamboo around 2 inches wide hangs from the bamboo that supports the pulley. This works as a divider to separate the two shafts to prevent friction between the shafts. The length reaches 4 inches below the shafts. Shedding mechanism:

The pit loom works on the principle of negative shedding . While weaving, the weaver has to sit herself with her legs in the pit so that she can apply pressure on the pedals. It means that when a pedal is pressed, the shaft connected to the other pedal is lifted due to pulley action . This means that when one pedal is pressed, the The fully open shed of t he pit loom

National Institute of Design,

cord connected to the pedal is pulled down and together with it, the shaft attached to it is also pulled down . At the same time, since it is the same cord connected to the other shaft, the other shaft is lifted up. The side view of the loom shows that the shed is fully open . When the shed is opened, the bamboo weft is inserted. A bunch of bamboo splits are held in the hand and it is used one by one. Bamboo wefts of different diameters are used. When the bamboo is machine split, the diameter can vary from 1mm to 3.5mm and the weft is round . When it is hand split it can .be either flat or round . In some mats, both, flat, wider bamboo sticks and round splits are used. The use of weft depends on the design and the demand of the market.

The pedals

In case of the Reang community, it is considered inauspicious for the male members of the family to weave. But most of the pit looms are found in the Bengali villages; the Bengali community does not hold any such opinion and even male members are involved in the process of weaving .

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The FRAME LOOM in Tripura: The frame loom consists of a sturdy framework that stands on the floor with a beam for warp storage at the back of the loom and a cloth beam at the front of the loom to store the finished weaving. The warp passes from the warp beam up over the back beam and is stretched across to the front beam, over it and down to the cloth beam which is usually placed out of the way of the weaver's knees. At the middle of the tensioned warp the shafts are suspended for lifting certain groups of warp threads. In front of these, the reed, which separates the warp threads and maintains their proper spacing, is held in a frame, which is pivoted, from the top of the loom. This is called the beater, which is pulled forward to beat the weft into place. Tools:


Taat (the loom) Shana (reed) Chunga (bamboo piece closed at one end by a node; used to pass the bamboo weft) Suta (yarn) Maku (shuttle to pass weft yarn) Phurni (reed hook)

Wood Metal Muli bamboo Cotton ( 2/40s to 2/80s) Wood Metal

Here, in Tripura, the frame looms are made by the craftsperson themselves. Parts: Basic structure

Reed Beater (reed frame) Pedals Healds Shafts Warp beam (for let off) Cloth beam (for take up) Lever that enables the up and down movement of the shafts.

~ational Institute of Design , Ahmedabad, 2001

The Frame Loom


Process: 1) With the yarns bought from the market in the hank form, bobbins are made on the charkha. 2) From the bobbins, the warp is made. Warping is done on the big round warping wheel. The warp is 50 to 80 metres long. Some craftsmen do the warping by taking the bobbin and winding it back and forth in the form of a figure eight between two bamboo bars held apart at a distance that will be the finished length of the fabric. In such cases, the length of the warp is comparatively lesser. While winding, the figure eight preserves the sequence of threads at both ends. 3) There are two beams for the take up and let off mechanism called the cloth beam and the warp beam respectively. 4) The width of the warp is 3.5ft to 4 ft. 5) The shafts are suspended from the lever at the top and tied to the pedals below. 6) Each of the shafts have metal healds .. 7) Drafting is done with the reed hook. 8) Reed is selected according to the count of the yarn which is dependent on the design. Only cotton yarn is used. 9) Denting is done with the help of the reed hook. 10) The warp is then taken over the front beam down to the cloth beam .

Structure of the Loom and Working Mechanism Shedding: The frame loom has positive shedding. Structure of the Frame loom: There are levers at the top of the loom from which the shafts are suspended . This lever is a slat of wood. From each hangs two cords from the both ends. There are two such levers or jacks for each shaft and both of them are hung on the same horizontal plane. Now, the cords at the ends of the two levers are tied to one shaft (shaft 1). The two cord at the both

National Institute of DeSign,

Lever 2

The Frame loom

ends of the frame provides balance to the shaft. The cords that remain at center are joined together and these two are then attached to a stick, which we shall call the secondary pedal (sp 1). Thi5 secondary pedal (sp1) is further connected to the pedal (pedal 1). This same pedal 1 is directly connected to the base of the other shaft (shaft 2). Similarly, the cords at the far end of the other lever are connected to the shaft 2, the base of which is directly joined to the pedal 1. The cords at the center from the second lever join together and connect to the pedal 2. The number of secondary pedals is equal to the number of shafts. This enables those shafts to be lifted when pressure is appl ied on the pedal.

Sp 2

Pedal 2 Pedal 1 Working mechanism of the Frame loom

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The Chunga Inserting the Chunga in the shed

Cords suspending the shafts

Pedals of the Frame Loom

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 - -- - - -------

Working Mechanism When pedal 1 is pressed down, the two cords (which join in the center) and are connected to the pedal are pulled down as a result of which the inner end of the lever bends down and the other goes up. This end is connected to the upper frame of shaft 1 and it is pulled up. Thus, shaft 1 is lifted up. Simultaneously another action Ttakes place. The cord that connects the pedal 1 to shaft 2 is also pulled down as a result of which the shaft2 is pulled down. The levers also act in favour of,this action; as the shaft is down, the cords that connect the shaft to the lever is also pulled down. Thus, the outer end of the lever is pulled down, at the same time the inner end goes up and this ends are connected to the pedal 2 which is not pressed i.e. it remains up. Positive shedding happens and the shed is fully open. When the shed happens the Chuaga is inserted. The Chunga contains thin bamboo splits which is the

weft. As the Chunga passes, one bamboo split is left back by the weaver. After this action of weft insertion beating is carried out. Then the lifting order is changed and a new shed opens where weft is inserted in the same process. Thus weaving goes on.


af 34 ------- ---------

The Directorate of Handloom, Handicrafts and Sericulture, Government of Tripura has been playing a major role in the promotion of these sectors in the State. To introduce the development efforts in an organised manner, the Directorate has identified a few clusters where the artisans are concentrated more. A number of Government and Non Government Organisations have been set up to look into the development of this craft. The main concentration of bamboo craft products in the state are found in Majlishpur, Mohanpur, Bishalgarh, Charilam, Jogendranagar, Araliya, Nalchar, Sonamura, Melaghar, Teliamura, Khowai, Kalyanpur, Karaimura and Agartala in West Tripura. Udaipur, Hadra, Tepa, Bangafa,Rajnagar,Satchand in South tripura . Dharmanagar, Jampai Hill, Panisagar, Kumarghat, Fatikroy, Salema, Mechuria and Mendi in North Tripura . Agartala being the state capital the Government is able to do more of development work in and around Agartala. Based on the demand of market outside the state the Government has tried to introduce newer designs in the vocabulary of the craftsmen and'women by giving them training, through the process of product development inspired from the traditional products, exposure to marketing and international fairs in Japan, Taiwan and China. Due to insurgency in the interior areas of the state, there has not been much change in the designs of the traditional products.

Tripura Handloomr Handicraft and Sericulturer Agartala The Directorate of Handloom, Handicraft and Sericulture, Government of Tripura, has been playing a major role in the development of the handloom and handicraft sector in the State. The Government has a separate Directorate to look after the development of the Handicraft sector. It provides new designs being developed in its Research and Design Centre to the craftsperson as well as to the trainees. It also provides assistance for marketing of the handicraft products through Cooperative, NGOs and cooperations in Trade Fairs, Craft Bazars, melas and exhibitions. The present Director of the Handloom, Handicraft and Sericulture Department is Mr. M .S.Bhattacharya. Under the Directorate is the Design afi1d Extension Centre, Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Common Facility Centre (CFC), the Marketing and Service Centre and the craft concentrated villages. All of these villages have been introduced to Government schemes and have been acquainted with new designs introduced in the villages through training programmes. Different MDs to different villages have been appointed to look after the marketing and product development of that village. l

Mastercraftsman Shri M. C. Das (BCDI)

Bamboo and Cane Instituter (BCOUr Agartala


The Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI) was set up to extend technical support to the artisans.BCDI conducts training for technical improvements, transfer of technology and development of design . It also helps in designing products for commercial production. According to the Technical superintendent Mr.A.K.Raha, BCDI offers training programmes to trainees from Tripura and the other states of India. Circulars are sent to District Industries, Khadi Committees, and other Government level organizations. Any capable person from any part of the country having suitable knowledge on bamboo and cane may undergo the training programme. The prerequisite of this advanced training course is an introductory working knowledge of the same. The duration for this training programme is 6 months. One training programme starts on the 1 st of Jan and the other on the 1st of July. There are 30 seats and 10 seats are always reserved for students from Tripura. The age restriction is 16 years to 35 years with 5 years relaxation for ST and SCs. The monthly stipend given is Rs 300/- per month and it increases according to distance from where they come. The motto of the Training programme is to make their trainees self-employed.


Training is provided in view of diversification of products, marketability and future programme ino Bamboo hand splitting o Treatment for insect attack o Dyeing of bamboo o Mat hand weaving o Bamboo weaving o Basketry o Furniture. Tools used for splitting of bamboo: a. Dao b. Stand c. Pidha

Bamboo Hand Splitting: The outer green covering of the bamboo is always to be removed by scraping off. In earlier times, the outer slice used to be cut and this was used to cut the umbilical cord of babies. For splitting, the bamboo is first cut into four and then split further with the dao and stand . They are usually made into thin flat splits, which are easier to weave baskets and mats. Weaving on looms is not done here. Treatment for insect attack: The insect that attacks bamboo is called Ghum. For treatment against insects bamboo is dipped in a solution of 3% Boric, 3% Borax in 100 ml of water. After they are mixed, the solution is boiled. It is ~ow that bamboo is dipped in it. Thin cut bamboo splits are dipped for 12 hours and 1.5mm bamboo is dipped for 24 hours. More the thickness of the bamboo more the time required . A round bamboo is kept for 48 hours. The colour after the treatment remains the same. For Fungus treatment, 0.75% of Sodium pentachlorophinate is added in 1litre of water. Both the solutions can also be mixed and treated

Nati0.0al Institu~e of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

together but the disadvantage is that after treatment in this solution the bamboo does not stick well with Fevicol. If the treatment is done before the product is made, the part where Fevicol is to be applied is to be scraped off. Otherwise the whole product is dipped into the solution after it is finished. Sodium pentachlorophinate treatment is not done in case of objects used to store edible objects for example fruit trays.

Sulphate and boiled for 1 hour again . . They are removed, washed and dried.

Dyeing of Bamboo: Synthetic Dyeing: 2.5 litres of water is boiled to 80 C · 2 gms of colour is added to the water · 100 grams of bamboo is added to this solution and the lid is closed of the container. · It is boiled. ~ · After 5 minutes, the bamboo is taken out, separated, turned in the solution . Left to boil for 25 minutes. · 25 to 45 drops of Acetic acid is added · After 5 minutes the bamboo is taken out and washed in cold water. · It is spread out in the shade to dry. · The bamboo does not soak the (jye, only the outer cover is coloured. · In synthetic colours the brightness or hue depends on the amount of colour tlsed Vegetable Dyeing: · The ingredients are- Myrobalam (500 gms), Ferrous Sulphate (250 gms) and water (1 0 litres) · The Myrobalam is pound into powder. · In 5 litres of water, powdered myrobalam with bamboo strips is added and boiled for 1 hour. Bamboo strips are removed . 250 gms Ferrous Sulphate is put in 5 litres of water. The bamboo splits are added in Ferrous


Common Facility Centre, Agartala

Design Extension Cetre, Agartala

CFC or the Common Facility Centre is a Central Government unit. This unit has the same bamboo splitting machines as that of THDC or the Tripura Handicraft Development Samity. These machines are used for making splits of different diameters ranging from 1mm to 3.5 mm . They also produce flat bamboo sticks. Thus unit also has a machine specially used for weaving screens. This has a device where bamboo splits are inserted manually through one end of the loom . This is placed as the next weft. And then beating is carried out and the machine is ready for the next weft. Here also the bamboo is treated in Boric acid and water before it is split for weaving .

Design Extension Centre is under the Handicraft, Handloom and Sericulture department. Here design explorations are carried out. They have a Design Extension Cell and a training center as well . The Design Extension Cell has a main designer who makes new designs on bamboo products taking inspiration from the existing traditional products. Once the designs are approved or it is seen that it is marketable, the trainees are trained in the designs and then the design is sent to the different villages where the other training centers propagate them . The design gets approved on the basis of cost, marketability, time consumed, f~ture use and diversification of products. In the training center, trainees are trained in making baskets, mudahs, hand fans and a lot of other things. Museum : There is also a museum which is a showroom of different kinds of products like the traditional products of the state and also the neighbouring states. It also showcases the products made by the in-house designer and the National Awardees.

Training at Design Extension Centre


The mechanised loom at CFC

The Museum at Design Extension Centre

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_ •_ _ _37

Marketing and Service Extension Centre, Agartala Marketing and Service Extension Centre was established to enhance employment facilities and promote marketing. Their main activities are to identify craft concentrated areas, manufacturers and prepare a directory of handicraft units, provide market based technical services, eliminate middlemen and identify lesser known crafts. This center is involved in marketing the products produced by the local craftsperson. It provides its services in registering a craftsperson and getting them to submit their designs for the National Award wining competition. They put up stalls every year in exhibitions all over the country and sponsor selected craftspeople to go there every year. They encourage the craftsperson and the village to produce products in large scale. Some of the villages have division of labour among different houses. For example, some do the splitting; some make the base of the basket while some develop the upper part. The products are collected and displayed at the state emporium for sale. They are also sent to different parts of the country. There are private entrepreneurs also in the state who are funded by the state government. The craftspeople also supply to private buyers and the State Government encourages it. The Marketing and Service Extension Centre, Tripura, also houses a display room where specifically traditional products are displayed. These products had been obtained from the native villages of the tribal people before insurgency surfaced in the state. These include one of the finest baskets of simple but exquisite weaves.

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National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 -- -- -------


1 (1.1) Shri Bhajan Sharma. Entrepreneur. Handicrafts Purchase Center of "Purba" .village Aralia. West Tripura. The Human Welfare C;I:.Jncil sponsors the Handicrafts Purchase Centre of "Purba" owned by Shri Bhajan Sharma who is the craftsman, designer,

decentralised . Centralised because some women come over to the place to offer their services and decentralised because the enterpreneur also gets his work done from craftsmen in their own homes. They produce good quality hand split bamboo mats with very less number of warp ends. These plain mats with very less warp ends are sold to neighbouring villages for production of hand fans, room dividers and Hand splitting by a group of women

Handicraft Purchase Centre of "Purba"

manufacturer and supplier. This place is in Aralia, West Tripura and is known for frame loom woven bamboo mats, where craftsmen and women use hand split bamboo splits. The local inhabitants of this village are immigrants from Bengal. The craft persons are mostly women and they live in the same village, expert in hand splitting and weaving there are around 10 women working in the place. The workshop is both central ised as well as

stencil printing . They also supply hand split bamboo sticks to different villaged where only weaving in carried out. Th is can be sited as one example of division of labour in among the villages. Shri Bajan Sharma also makes room dividers at his place.

BAMBOO USED: Do/u and Mu/ibamboo are the two species used for the production of the woven screens and Room divider. Do/u bamboo is obtained from south Tripura, Amarpur, Chakamaghaat and Teliamura . This bamboo is used for weaving screens, which have a wider width, because the distance between the nodes is 50in. and the wall thickness is less termed as pat/a bad in local language. This is the only bamboo that has the longest node gap and thus gives an even surface in the final product. Do/ubamboo is expensive because only 20-30 bamboos out of 1000 have a considerable node length. It is bought for Rs 25/- per bamboo. Mu/i bamboo, which is found in abundance, is used as a part of the room dividers . The small decorative chips are cut out of this bamboo. This does not require bamboo with longer node length and Muli bamboo serves the purpose as this bamboo has a shorter node length. Though it grows in abundance in the village, the villagers usually have to buy them as they do not use the bamboo that grows there. According to sources, the bamboo growing there has been in use for ages and as such the quantity has been decreasing . So they get it from the local market. The Mu/ibamboo is used plentifully in making fences around the state. The products made in this place are frame loom woven screens and room dividers. Room dividers are with various kinds of design. Screens are again classified into two categories.


1) Plain weave structure screens 2) Twill weave structure screen PROCESS: Curing Here, kacchabamboo bought from the market is soaked in water for 48 hours. After the bamboo is split, it is treated with urea salt for treatment against fungus. Then it is dried for 1 to 2 days in the shade. In this final stage it is used for weaving.

WOVEN MATS IN ARALIA; The advantage of frame looms in Aralia is that the craftsperson has been able to produce screens of complicated weaves and designs. Also the wider width products can be produced as compared to the pit loom. Mostly two main kinds of screens are produced. Khaki mat that is the plain mat where the colour of the warp yarn is very close to the natural colour of the bamboo. The number of ends are very less and the gap between the ends is almost 1cm. For this mat only two pedals and two shafts are used. The weave used is plain weave. The width of the mat on the loom is 42in. This particular mat is used for making different products like room dividers, bags, trays, fans, latter holders, lampshades, stencil printing for paillel screens. The Khaki mat Room divider

Handsplitting of bamboo

They use the Haath dao, the stand, which is shaped like an A, and the Pldha used for sitting . As mentioned before, the bamboo is first cut at the nodes. Then it is sliced into four parts after which it is further cut into finer splits. After it is considerably finer it is further split to even thinner splits. Since round splits are required for weaving purposes, the splits are not scraped at the sharp end of the dao. But when flat splits are required, the bamboo splits are scraped at the sharp end of the dao; this removes the fibre and smoothens the surface of the split.

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001






Patterned screens: Other screens that are produced on the frame looms have different designs. There are woven with 6 pedals and the number of shafts can be increased. The dyed yarns used for the warp are cotton and are bought from the local market at Agartala. They are woven in a much denser warp than the khaki mats. The weaves used are mostly twill, plain and variations of twill . In these mats zigzag and the diamond motifs are very popular.

FOLDING SCREENS AND ROOM DIVIDERS The room divider or the folding screens are made of wooden frames each measuring 2 ft by 6 ft in size, joined with hinges. The frames are filled with woven mat or chattaistuck onto a plywood base. This textile consists of plain khaki warp and bamboo splits as weft. The mat surfaces are Patterned designs heavily decorated with floral and animal patterned bamboo chips and cane. The room divider or the folding screen is also used as a decorative piece . The frame of the folding screen is made of Gomai


wood and the decorative bamboo chips are cut from Mulibamboo, which grows locally. The machine used to cut these decorative pieces is called the Zigsaw machine. To make their work faster, they nail five or six strips of bamboo and together cut them on the machine. These pieces are joined with an adhesive onto the already stuck mats. Dolu bamboo is used as the weft for weaving the plain mats with khaki warp. These are stuck onto the plywood base as the centrepiece . Cane is also used for curvilinear patterns and is attached with the help of nails and adhesive. Cane is expensive in tripura because it is obtained from Assam . Its cost is almost Rs 5/- to Rs 8/- per piece. Due to its grater cost it increases the finel cost of the product. Decorative bamboo shapes being on the Zig saw machine

(1.2) Rathis Deb. Craftsman and Entrepreneur. Jogendranagar. West Tripura Jogendranager is also in West Tripura and is very close to Aralia. The village there werhad several clumps of Muli bamboo growing all around the area . Suprisingly, besides using them for making fences, the craftspeople producing mats did not use this species in this village. This village also has a concentration of Bengali immigrants. Here, craftspeople produce frame loom products like screens and mats used for decorating boxes, which are used in festivals for selling sweets, and other eatables outside Tripura. Rathis Deb is an aged craftsperson who is proficient with woodwork and also does manual splitting of bamboo and mat weaving . H'e and his wife both are involved in the craft. Here, the process is almost the same as in the Aralia . He makes his own frame loom at home with Gomaiwood . Rathis Deb and his wife are suppliers of mats to Purbasha, the State Government Emporium . His wife has also been to several parts of India to give demonstrations of the craft.

Cane decoration on the room divider

Dolu bamboo being soaked in water

Treatment of bamboo: Beside the structure of his house, which is made of bamboo, there is a small pond, which is utilised to treat the bamboo. He collects the bamboo required from the local market. Mostly, Dolu bamboo is used . First it is kept in the sun for some 7-20 days. Bamboo of thinner wall is kept for 7 days and the one with a thicker wall is kept for almost 20 days. Then it is soaked in water for 7 weeks . This brings whiteness to the bamboo, which remains for a long time. This also gives strength and life to the bamboo. If the same bamboo is kept in the water for a longer period, around 4-6 months, the colour changes and it becomes gray. Its life and strength increases but the whiteness wears off. He is of the opinion that he is the only person who treats the bamboo naturally and not with chemicals.

Rathis Deb. Craftsman



Design. _~hmedabad . .32~



are sold as gift items. It is also made into bags and mats.

Designs of the mats: The mats were produced on the frame loom made by the craftsman himself. The width of the woven product was 42in to 44in and these were either for screens or mats. In some of the mats dent gaps were left inbetween which suggested the width of the panels to be cut. After the required length of each mat, the end is bounded by satin weave so that the bamboo weft is secured. Finally, adhesives were used to finish the edges.

Finishing: The edge is finished after the weaving is over. Scissors or dao are used to cut the extra splits extending out from the sides. And in the final finishing cloth piping is attached on both sides. As it is used as a screen, it is framed with the wooden strip at the top and bottom, which holds it straight. It functions on drawstrings, which enables the screen to be pulled up or down by a rolling mechanism. Screen woven with plain weave

The Frame loom made by craftsman Rathis Deb

The designs can be classified into two groups according to weavesPlain weave . Twill weave PLAIN WEAVE: The only difference in the mats woven in tabby or plain weave was that the warp pattern was different. In some screens the warp density is less in others it is more.

There is a difference in the colours and rhythm of the warp ends . The warps are either of one colour or multicolour. Using a single colour warp the craftsmen play around with the warp density, rhythm and the weave. Weave variation in the warp i~ plain and basket weave. There is no design variation in the weft. The only weft used is thin bamboo stick, split manually. In the use of multicoloured warp, a rhythmic warp pattern is followed. Weft used is the same as in case of plain weave screens . Yarn is not used in the weft except for binding at the end of a sample.

Twill weave used in weaving mats

TWILL WEAVE: In case of twill weave they limit themselves to usin a single colour in the ' warp. The variation of twill weave used was diamond twill. This is the most common design which gives a nondirectional surface. This product is used for covering boxes.that

Nation~1 Institut-e of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 43 ~----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------~~

(1.3) Sunil Roy. Craftsman- Entrepreneur. Jogendranagar. West Tripura

(1.4) Nibaran Debnath. CraftsmanEntrepreneur. Majlishpur. West Tripura

Sunil Roy is a craftsman involved in doing a craft of recent origin called decorative board images.

Majlishpur is known for its uneven bamboo mat weaving. This setup is being sponsored by the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) Government of India, Ministry of Textiles. It is an

BOARD DECORATION This kind of work is very commercial and new. It is a decorative craft where images of animals and birds are cut out of bamboo sticks and stuck on a plywood base. The bamboo strips used are the outer covering of the bamboo, which is polished and varnished. Firstly, on the plywood base the bamboo sticks are stuck in different directions; this forms the textured background. Then on a separate piece of plywood, bamboo sticks are again stuck in different directions keeping in mind the form of the animal. The animal is then drawn out on this surface with a pencil and cut along the lines with the Jigsaw. Thus, the animal form is complete. This form is then fixed on the background. The different strips pasted in different directions give a gradation and a three-dimensional feel to it and makes it interesting. The background is then finished with the wooden frame. .

Raw material: The raw material used is only hand split bamboos are used which are bought from Jogendranagar village. These splits come in a A bundle of sticks

bunch of 1000 sticks and the per bunch cost is Rs-2/-The sticks are of diameter 1mm thickness. Thicker splits costs Rs1/- for 1000 splits. The bamboo sticks are treated in Urea, the chemical also used as fertilisers in the fields . Designs The designs of mats woven in this village were mainly restricted for tablemats. The yarn used for the warp is cotton and the count ranges from 2/40s to 2/80s. The warp yarns are not of a very high quality and so are not very strong. It is bought from the local market at Agartala. Nlbaran Debnath's training centre Weaving with uneven weft

Horse board decoration

apprenticeship- training center where the master craft person Sri Nibaran Debnath conducts and imparts one year training in mat weaving. This is a centralised setup where he imparts training to trainees who come to this centre. His family was also involved in the whole setup. Nirmala Debnath his wife, Badal Debnath, his son, Sangeeta Debnath his daughter-in-law all assist in mat weaving . They supply mats to Purbasha and other private organizations. The enterpreneur has around 10 pit looms where they give training. Mostly women come for training. The trainees are paid a monthly stipend of Rs 3001-.


of Design,

44 Ahmedab~d, ~2~O~O~1_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _...:-:._

These mats can be divided into two categories according to the weft used . One type of mat has bamboo weft of the same diameter that gives an allover even surface. Another type uses bamboo splits of various thickness and width.

Another difference is in the warping pattern. The density of the warp can be more or less, depending on the type of mat. The colour and rhythm also change. When bamboo strips of different width are inserted as weft, the design looks different on the face and on the back. This difference is due to the colour of the warp threads . Since the weave used is plain weave, the thickness of the splits and the colour combine to

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Stencil printing on woven bamboo mats 1

Mats of uneven weft and different warp patterns

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

Stencil printed pannel screen

produce a different effect on the front and back. This is created due to the amount of colou~ showing on both sides. Besides producing their own mats, they also purchase woven mats from the neighbouring villages like Aralia and Jogendranagar. These mats that are purchased are made into different products like bags, hand fans, big decorative fans, panel ~creens and others. The mats are enveloped in plastic and then stitched before the bags are made. The edges are finished

off with cloth piping. The mat is used as a surface on which stencil printing is done. This is used for panel screens. The stencils are made of art paper with the designs cut out of it. Either Oil paint or Asian paints (wall paint) are used. The base used is "mitti ka tel" (kerosene). The stencil printing is usually done in the vertical direction so that the mats could be cut vertically to make pannel screens. Hand painting (oil painting) and stencil printing are done on mats used to make hand fans and bigger decorative fans. The products are packed in plastics and in cartons during the monsoon. They supply the products to Purbasha, the State Emporium and also supply to private clients in places like Delhi and Bombay.


(1.5) Makhan Bhowmick. Craftsman and Entrepreneur. Tripura Shree Welfare Society. Majlishpur. West Tripura

jute animals. They themselves dye the jute that is bought with synthetic dyes. The women working for this master craftsman have their own looms in their houses too where they weave mats besides producing other products.

Decorating the jute bag

Makhan Bhowmick is an entrepreneur in his own right. The products are jute bags, jute mats, decorative boards, decorative fans and other products. His is a decentralised setup where he trains women 'Iiving in the village who produce for him. He purchases raw material like jute, cotton yarn , bamboo spl its and provides them to the craftswomen . He also gives them the designs. The products made are sold through Purbasha and other cl ients. Hand painting is done on the woven bamboo hand fans . Another product made is the jute folder. Woven jute material bought from the market is stitched on the machine to make the folder and the edges are finished with cloth piping . The jute is bleached white before using . The stitched folder is then decorated with decorative bamboo forms cut by the craftswomen themselves. The other products are woven jute mats, round crocheted jute bags, small dolls made of jute, stuffed

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

House made of bamboo

(2.0) CHURILAM. Craft Cluster: Churilam is a village in West Tripua around 25 kms from the main town of Agartala. The village has a concentration of Bengali imm igrants. The craftspeople specialize in bamboo products. This village comes under the Government scheme and the craftsmen are sponsored for training. There is a great demand for their products in the outside market besides the local market. Taking inspiration from the traditional products like the fish catching instruments, the baskets etc they nowadays produce products for decorative purposes and modern utility items like boxes, flower baskets, tukris etc in smaller sizes. Almost all the houses were producing similar kind of items. This was because they were all supplying to the State Government. But some of them also claimed to have private buyers and that they had been to places like Delhi to take part in fairs and haats Sponsored by the Tripura Government. As these places are not easily accessible from the rest of the country, the local people use bamboo which is the most abundantly available material, for architectural use in making houses, fences, gates etc. a. Houses: The house structure is made of bamboo. Besides its availability, the added advantages are that it is lightweight, wind resistant and able to w ithstand earthquakes. The typical house uses bamboo as the pillars of the house. The walls of the house are made from flattened bamboo strips woven to form a surface. To make this surface rigid, it is strengthened with split bamboo secured across the width of the surface with ropes or wires. The wall is attached to the pillars of the house. The outer surface of the wall is then plastered w ith mud. Some of the houses are left without the mud plaster.


b. The Roof: The roof structure is also made of bamboo and covered with grass thatch. The grid for the roof is a square bamboo grid with bamboo also placed diagonally across. The grid is made on the ground and then hoisted up. The roof grids are rectangular or

Process of flattening bamboo

Bamboo used to cover the triangular opening

c. Doors and windows: The shutters for the doors and windows are also made of bamboo. Within the framework ~he weaves used are usually dense. Bamboo door

Bamboo grid for t he roof

trapezoidal . Th e triangular openings have to be covered in the same way. After being hoisted up and secured firmly to th e bamboo framework it is covered with thatch.

Flattened bamboo fen ce Bamboo window

d. Fences: Fences are one of the best examples of bamboo being used as a structural materia l in the region . These are made out of flattened lengths or longitudinal splits of thin walled bamboo culms. A space and less dense weave are used for the fences as compared to the weaves used in the walls, doors or windows. The most widely used bamboo in this village is Paura bamboo. Thached roof

Nati ~na l Institute of Design, ~hmedab_ad, _2_00_1_ _ _ _ _---:-_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _4 _ ",-

(2.1) Government Training Centre. Churilam. West Tripura: The State Government runs this Government Training Centre where training is imparted to craftswomen from the village. They are trained to make Mudahsor round stools and other products like small baskets, trays, and flower baskets. They are also trained to weave on the frame loom and produce bamboo mats.

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Step 2 Step 6 : Mudah

bamboo in the other direction is inserted. The seat is made from an open hexagonal weave . Elaborate binding gives the mudhastrength of construction, and decorative weaves are used in the seat and the rim covering. The rim is made up of several layers of split bamboo about 30 mm wide, sandwiching the end of the body elements. Tension elements of twisted cane spl its are anchored to seat the rim . These pass bellow the seat weave in order to transfer load to the rim without straining the seat weave. Finally the Mudah is smoked over a fire to give the bamboo and cane a brown colour.

The Govt. Training Centre at Churilam Step 3

Mudah.s: Mudha is a simple stool for sitting made of bamboo and cane. The bottom and the base of the mudah is round while the body is formed by twisting bamboo sticks in two opposite directions. The bamboo used is Makhal baansh and the cane used is called goal bet meaning round cane. Makhal baansh has considerable strength and is used for furniture . First a chattaiis made from bamboo and cane. The bamboo sticks are joined to each other with cane leaving a gap of 1 cm in between. After the chattaiis made, it is made to stand and is twisted . It is twisted and round frames are attached at the top and bottom . It is tied at the centre with a cane. Then , the

Step 4

Step 5


(2.2) Mohan Das. Craftsman and Entrepreneur. Churilam. West Tripura The bamboo used is Paura baansh. Almost everybody from a child of 9 years to an old person was skilled in bamboo product making. Maya Das, a 9 year old girl, from the neighbouring house exhibited her skill in making a small basket in less than 15 minutes! Paura baansh is finer and less expensive than Do/u baansh and that's why it was preferred to other bamboo species. Moreover Paura baanshgrew in abundance in the village.

After the basket is woven, a frame was attached to the edge with adhesive. The edge was finished with the dao. One craftsperson can produce 5 baskets of diameter 12 inches per day, 10 baskets of diameter 9 inches, 15 baskets of diameter 5inches. Besides the main product i.e. the fruit basket which was produced in a large scale, The other products produced were decorative fish, small fish baskets and other imitations of traditional product with some modifications. These craftspeople are sponsored by the State Goyernment to go to different places for demonstrating their skills at fairs etc. Dolu Rani Sarkar was one lady who had been to Madhya Iilradesh and even abroad.

(2.3) Gauranga Nomo. Craftsman and Entrepreneur. Churilam. West Tripura

Baskets in the sun Bamboo products on display

Weaving baskets

There were no loom based products; all the products produced were from interlaced bamboo strips. This family concentrated in making baskets for fruit displays. This interlaced design woven was called the "sun" design. The bamboo is not treated in water or any chemical. After the product is finished, a mixture of varnish, turpentine and kerosene is applied on its surface. Some craftspeople also added synthetic yellow colour to this mixture to bring brightness to the finished product.

Gauranga Namo is a private entrepreneur in his own right, also encouraged by the Tripura Government. He has a whole set up in his own house where he has engaged all the family members as well as a few people from nearby houses. There are three shelters in his courtyard, he uses one as his living place and the other two as storing places for the products. The products made here are hand woven mats from flat bamboo splits. These mats are cut and shaped to make other products like pencil boxes and small containers . They also make fruit baskets, flower baskets, other small decorative baskets, baskets of three different sizes in a set. Two baskets of the" sun" design are joined to make lampshades too. They also make round frames that can be used as a photo frame or mirrorframe. The bamboo used was Paura baansh. The bamboo is not treated with any chemicals before it is cut into strips to make products out of them . It is manually split into flat strips .

Finishing: After the product is complete, a mixture of kerosene, varnish and colour is applied to the product and left to dry in the sun. This mixture gives a luster to the product and the colour added gives brightness to the product.

. Storing the products

Finishing with an application of a mixture of kerosene, varnish and colour

Packing: The baskets were nestled together and tied with jute ropes. These were then p'ut into cardboard boxes and tied securely with jute ropes from all sides. Packing the products

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 .


Besides the products made ~or the market, bamboo is also used in making products for everyday use. Most of the time they do not 'waste' their time in making these as they can purchase them from the local market. These are supplied to the local market by craftspeople from interior villages, mostly tribals who have not yet been influenced by the outside market. They only make products that have a demand in the ouside market and sell. According to them, the traditional utility products require a lot of bamboo and their efforts are not remunerated. But the products sold in the market outside are small ~n size and require less bamboo and the price people are willing to pay for it is also high. Only in case of necessity do they make such utility items themselves. One such product is the Do/a used to store rice. Dola: The dol a is a grain storage basket which has a large square base with the sides tapering out to form a circular rim . The outer surface of the basket is plastered with a mixture of cowdung, clay,and rice husk before being used to store grain .

Do/a used to store rice

This entrepreneur has markets in Mumbai, Laxmi Nagar in Delhi for his products. Besides this he also sells in nearby states of Assam and in Tripura itself. He sends huge quantities of products to different places. Transportation is a problem most of the time. The products are packed at his place in cartons by the people themselves and then sent from Agartala to Guwahati in Assam by bus and then by train from Guwahati to other destinations.

(3.0) SOUTH CHURl LAM. Craft Cluster:

(2.4) Binod Nomo. Craftsman. Churilam. West Tripura

. Making a bamboo boat

Binod Nomo, Craftsman

Bamboo boats

Binod Nomo is the only craftsperson in the whole village of Churilam making bamboo boats as a decorative item . His is helped by his wife and sons. boat The making process is

National Institute of DeSign, Ahmedabad, 2001

Upside up

simple. First with hand split flat bamboo a mat of 3/3 twill is woven by hand. After being woven for sometime at the two points where the boat curves, the slits are turned in perpendicular direction and it ~ woven again. The frame of the boat is made of a thicker spl it of bamboo and attached to the boat by very thin wire. The tools used were the Pidha, the dao and the stand . An adhesive was used in the joinery. One traditional product that was being used was the shampa to store the tools which included smaller knives and a screw driver. This craftsperson supplied his products to the State Government Emporium, Purbasha . The bamboo used was Paura baansh.

South Churilam is further than Churilam and it takes 15 minutes to go from Churilam .This village also has a concentration of Bengali community. It is an interior village of Tripura and the people here are poorer than the people living in Churilam .Muli bamboo could be seen growing in abundance. The Government hasn 't been able to make this village very market savy as yet. The craftspeople here were satisf ied with themselves and their way of life and were not very eager to learn the newer designs from the nearby village that sold well in the outside market. There was less variety in their work and the quality of their product was rough . They made traditional products like tukn; kula, dola, chain! a. Houses- the inner walls of the house are made of flattened bamboo strips and plastered with mud . In some cases the walls are completely made of woven bamboo strips. b. Roofs- The framework of the roof is entirely made of whole bamboo, which is covered with thatched hay. c. Doors and windows- the doors and windows are made in the same way they use either on hinges or sliding door mechanism.

Upside down Use of bamboo in natural surroundings


d. Fences- the fences are made of mulibamboo. e. Basic structure in agriculture- Bamboo is also used as the basic structure for Paan (beetle leaf) cultivation . Barak baansh wh ich is heavy in weight is used as the pillars and the Muli bamboo which is light in weight is used as the upper structure on which the paangrows. Tukrf. The tukri is a shallow basket used by the Bengali settlers of Tripura . The tukri has a square base and the sides flare out to form a circular rim . The square base is flat. Interweaving bamboo warp in twill structure forms the base. No gap is left between warp elements at the base but as they move up, the gap between the warp increases. The weft uses bamboo almost 1/3 rd the width of the warp . The thickness is the same. All the way to

1.Weaving t he base of the Tukri

the rim two-up-two-down twill or one-up-one-down twill is used. Sandwiching it between two bamboo splints and tying it with wire or plastic raffia strengthen the rim . Chalni: Chalnis are sieves used as dry or wet strainers to shift grain or wash vegetables. The basic structure of the chalni is a mat stretched within a circular rim . It is usually made with an open weave. Kulha: Kulhas are U shaped winnowing trays the length being more than the width. They are held so that the back of the fan or the arch of the U is towards the body. The weaving of the mat is begun from the front edge. Strips of bamboo are folded so that the two arms of the fold lie at right angles to each other. The strips are then woven to produce the mat. lihe folded edge is strengthened w ith two bamboo splits. These are temporarily attached with thin bamboo. A bamboo split is introduced parallel to the edge; this holds the two arms in position . The edge is then cleaned by cutting .away the protruding bamboo with a dao. The whole structure is 2. Weaving th e Tukri held together by thin wires wound over t he bamboo spl its.



----3. Distance between the warp increases

4. Cutting the edges




Step 1: Weaving the mat from the front edge

Step. 4: Making the rim

Step 7: Cuting off the protruding edges

Step 2: Bamboo strips being woven

Step 5: Fitting the rim

Step 8: Fixing the front edge

Step 3: The mat

Step 6: Fixing the rim with thin wire

Step 9: The finished Kulha

National Institute of Design, Ahrneda~ad, 2001

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53 ------'--'--

(4.0) NALCHAR. Craft Cluster: Nalchar is a village situated 30 kms from Agartala.


bed, table, sometimes a chair tools and cooking utensils. Even young children of age around 12 years are proficient in the skill of making bamboo products. Houses in Nalchor

Here also they make the traditional tukri in the same process as described earlier but in this case the two bamboo splits on the two sides of the rim are tied .by plastic threads.

It also has a concentration of Bengali settlers of Tripura . Here both traditional products like tukri and decorative baskets, carom board baskets, fruit baskets and small fish catching instruments are produced . This village, though far off, is easily accessible .

Making baskets as a household activity

Boy holding a Jhunea

lhunea- The Jhunea is a kitchen stand . Earlier it was used to keep pots on it so that it was kept safe from cats and other pets . Nowadays the basket on the topmost ring is used to keep chickens. This is not very much in use now because accord ing to them it is an old product. lhakoi- The jakoi is a fish trap . The Jakoi

A carom boa rd desig n basket

The use of bamboo in making houses, fences, rooftops are the same as that of Churilam but the doors and windows are made of wood . Most of the bouses have just one room w ith the bare necessities like a

is made from a rectangular mat, the front edge which is straight, forms the base of an equilateral triangle. A continuous bamboo split is used to strengthen the periphery of the triangle formed by three edges of the mat. The ends of the splint extend upwards from the apex of the triangle forming the handle.

(5.0) Tripura Handicraft Development Samiti. Entrepreneur. Agartala. West Tripura Introduction: Tripura Handicraft Development Samiti is the name of the Non-Government Organization, which was established to work towards the promotion, and development of the artisans engaged in bamboo handicraft sector. This set up is in west Tripura, Agartala . This Samiti has tried to build a suitable platform for the promotion of these crafts and the craftsperson . The craft development centre is assisting the Samity in the same direction. The person who runs this organization is Shri.Ratiranjan Bhowmic, a well-known person in the Tripura . This place is famous for its loom woven mats and chopsticks. He has the infrastructure of mechanised machines for making chopsticks He is the exclusive producer for chopsticks for export. It is a semi large setup where all the mats are woven on pit looms. The number of looms is around 40. All the women who are employed here come from the village around Natunnagar. He also owns a handicraft showroom, where almost all handicraft items from Tripura have been displayed. This is the only Non-Government Organisation in Tripura where he has managed to get mechanised machine splitting machines from Taiwan . It is a complete setup where all the processing is done inhouse. They also grow a little amount of bamboo next to their production house. The species of bamboo, grown inside his campus are: Konkais baansh Bombaansh Makhal baansh Baribaansh

Natio~1 Institute of Design, Ahm~dabad, 2~Ol

Mritinga baansh Barak baansh Mulibaansh Dolubaansh The whole set-up is divided into 7 divisions. Bamboo treatment Bamboo splitting Heating chamber Bamboo chopstick manufacture Mat weaving Store Finishing, stitching and packing section

Bamboo splitting: Introduction of bamboo splitting in the mechanized machine was a revolution in the whole of Tripura handicrafts sector. Ratiranjan Bhowmic was one of the first people to introduce this process it and being an NGO it was a matter of pride for him . Bamboo splitting is one of the main divisions he has got in his setup. The whole splitting process needs 5 machines 1) Measurement of bamboo 2) Thicker splits 3) Removal of the upper hardy layer of the bamboo 4) Finer splitting 5) Polishing

Bamboo treatment: The bamboo is treated naturally or with certain chemicals before it is split. Here, bamboo is treated with certain chemicals and being a private entrepreneur he does not disclose the process to others. The bamboo treatment is done in a big cylindrical container with a lid on top, which is made of iron. The cut bamboo is kept inside, water is added with chemicals and the cylinder is rotated in the vertical direction from 15 degree to 90 degree where the lower part goes inside the kiln . The temperature rises upto 75 degree. After that it is kept for 1-2 days for cooling it down. Then it is dried in the shad"e for one complete day. The next process is splitting . Splitting of bamboo Treatment of bamboo

Process: In the first stage bamboo is measured and cut to a certain length . After cutting it travels through all the other mach ines, where the final product comes out in the stick form. They can produce sticks of different thickness, which varies in diamater from 1 mm to 3.5mm. And then it goes for polishing .



Heating chamber: Here all the sticks are made into small bundles that go into the heating chamber for12 hours where the temperature is raised upt01 00 degree. The furnace uses all the bamboo generated in the splitting process.

required length and is smoothened. In the second phase, all the pieces kept in the chopper are shifted towards the separator, which split it from one end and leaves the other end joined 1 inch. Now the next one shapes the sticks and polishes them.

CHOPSTICKS MAKING: Chopsticks making also follows the 6 stage process.

1) Bamboo measurement 2) Thicker splits 3) Removal of the upper hardy layer of the bamboo 4) Smoothening and making it even in width . 5) Rounding and splitting 6) Separating and polishing

The Pit looms at THDS

Splitting the chopstick into two


MAT WEAVING: Mat weaving at THDS is famous for its mat quality. The tablemats are woven on.pit looms. They have got one shuttle loom and a mechanized loom also which is not working presently. The shuttle loom, produces larger width screens and the mechanised loom produces screens using thicker weft and wider screens.

Shaping the chopsticks Machine for cutting the chopstick to the required length

For making chopsticks, the process followed for splitting is the same as the process followed for making splits used in mat weaving. After that it requires another series of machines where first it gets cut in the

All the products manufactured here are for the export market, so quality and quantity both matter. The evenness of the product is very important. The Pit loom

56 - - - - ----

Stores: Store where all the products are kept.

Mats rolled up and stored

Finishing, stitching and packing section: The entire products such as mats, chopsticks have to be fin ished . Mats are fin ished by cutting them to the required size , cutt ing the edges , applying adhesive and stitch ing the piping on the edges. Then it goes for packi ng, w here the set of 6 big and 6 small mats are pac ked together wh ich ma kes one package.

Mat samp les Finish ing the edges on the stiching machine

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001



NI G Bamboo craft is a traditional craft which has been passed down from one generation to generation. Bamboo is so ingrained in the lives of the people that it is impossible not to know how to deal with the material being there. The craft is learnt mostly from relatives or acquaintance or training as apprentices. In the past, the craft was purely traditional among the tribal community. With the influx of people from Bangladesh, the craft has gained popularity. This is because of the fact that newer and higher quality products began to be made. With time, it was realized that the products had to face competition at the hands of the outside market and that training programmes would help. Thus, with a view to promoting this indigenous craft of Tripura, imparting training in this craft and developing a taste for good design and craftsmanship, the government of Tripura has started training centers for the same purpose.

The tradition goes on .. .

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabaci, 2001







Market is the most important aspect in the growth and development of any craft. Bamboo obtained by the craftsmen is processed and made into various products. In some villages there is division of labour splits are produced in one village, the base at one and the final product in another. After the product is finished and ready for sale, in most villages, it is collected at one craftsman's place, which is then sold through different channels. This craftsman is one who has the most contacts. These articles are sold both in local markets and outside market. The marketing can broadly be classified into four different categories A. Products supplied to the consumer directly B. Products sent through Middlemen C. Products sold through the Co-operative societies, the Government. D. Other sources

A. Products supplied to the consumer directly: In this case the craftsmen supply the ready product to the local markets in haats, shops and emporia. He manufactures and sells the products himself and the monetary advantage is his alone. This way he gets full credit for the effort gone into making of the product. B. Products sold through Middlemen: Middlemen are those who act as an agent between the craftsman and the client . In most cases the craftsman is only vaguely aware of the main client and in the process the middleman can benefit a lot. The middleman gives orders to the craftsmen in the villages according to the requirements of the client and the village craftsmen are involved with the production of the same . After the order is complete within the stipulated period of time, the products are transported to the place of sale. In some cases the client pays the transportation charges and in some cases the craftsman incurs the expenditure to be reimbursed again to him . In such cases the chances of making profit are

National ~)stitut~f Des~n. AhrnC'dab~. 2001

lesser than if sold directly to the consumer. C. Products sold through Government schemes: When the government is involved the process starts from the very beginning from the supply of the raw material to the marketing of the finished product. The bamboo mayor may not be supplied to the villager. Sometimes the craftsman gets it from the local market and in some villages the raw material is supplied to them . The raw material, the bamboo, is treated according to means and split differently for different products. And after the product is ready for the market the craftsmen supply them to the State Government Emporium. The BCDI, CFC, Marketing and service Centre, Design Extension Centre all fall under the Government and all of them have separate functions. The Design extension department looks after the design part of the product. If a new pwduct is designed it is first introduced in fairs and if it is seen that it has a market potential it is produced in mass scale. The craftsmen are first imparted training in the making of the product. But most of the products which were being produced were baskets of simple designs. They hold training programmes. The BCDI also holds training programmes which strive to make the trainees self-employed . The Marketing Service centre is responsible to encourage craftsmen, look after the various fairs and popularize the craft and the craftsperson. They also sponsor craftsman to go to different places of the country for demonstrations or stalls in different exhibitions and fairs.

D. Others: Other sources could be that the craftsmen could have showrooms of their own.



Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001


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Bamboo as a trad ition is very strongly ingrained in the life ofthe local people ofTripura . In the present scenario it is seen that out of the 14 species of bamboo that are found in Tripura, all of them are used for different uses particular to each . Each part of the plant has found a use in itself and a market in the outside world. Thus the economic structure of the State is mostly dependent on this material found in abundance. Bamboo being a versatile material has been used since ages for various purposes, the most common being architectural use as in bamboo fences, roofs, doors, windows, structure of houses; interlaced products for daily use for storage, winnowing, catching fish; loom woven bamboo mats for use as dining mats, screens, chicks etc. The traditional interlaced products that were originally used for household activities or catching fish have also found a new market as decorative items. Introduction of industria l materials like steel utensils, nylon fishnets, plastics and other such materials into the lifestyle of the people of the State has also been one of the factors for tradit ional basketry products to lose their prior market among the resident inhabitants. As an effect of this, the functional aspect of these domestic products has reduced with time. Most of these products have also been scaled down from their original size for uses other than their original use and displayed as emporia products. Besides the basketry products, nowadays, loom woven bamboo screens, chicks and tablemats have a tremendous market outside the State. An extensive use of bamboo screens and chicks in offices, residences, showrooms and hotels has created a great need and demand for them . Other products made from loom woven bamboo mats, which are hand fans, bags etc

have a smaller market comparatively. As an accessory, bags have always been in good demand. But in Tripura, existing bags made of woven bamboo mats lack innovation in design. It thus presents an untapped design potential in the diversification of this product. Besides making bags out of loom-woven bamboo mats, they can also be made as on-loom finished products. The method of interlacement of fine bamboo splits can be another technique of shaping a bag. Tripura being a state where weaving is a household activity and traditional methods of weaving like the loin loom is still prevalent, products made from yarn weaving on the traditional loom could be linked with bamboo mats and screens to make a collection. An ex~mple to this effect could be a collection of a set of loom woven bamboo mats coordinated with napkins and tea-cozies made from fabrics from traditional loin looms; a furnished set of bamboo screens with cushions and rugs. The craft repertoire of Tripura, which has remained the same for many years is not enough to sustain the livelihood of the craftsmen. Recognition of employment generation potential in the State has led to a 'need to diversify their products and enlarge their markets. The mechanized splitting machine is also another step towards this. Due to greater market demand of loomwoven screens and mats mechanized splitting machines have been imported by an entrepreneur and the CFe, which enable faster splitting of bamboo and give a variety in the thickness of bamboo splits. Increasing the speed of splitting and thickness variation is not enough, eagerness in design innovation is what needs to be created. The Government, realising this has involved itself in conducting training programmes for the promotion of this craft and in funding eager entrepreneurs. Interactive workshops held between craftsmen and marketing outlets will help stimulate the

local craftsmen to come up with innovative products, which will find a place in the market.


a) Improving technology of bamboo splitting and quality of raw material As quoted by a Government employee, the skill of the Craftsman of Tripura could be compared to the craftsmen of Hong Kong, Ta iwan and other such countries specialized in producing exportable bamboo products. According to him, the local craftsmen in Tripura could make products which could outdo those in the above mentioned countries but it is unfortunate that they are not able to reproduce it in a large scale because it would require much time and labour and the amount received would be very less compared to the effort put into making of the product. Thus it can be concluded that there is an immediate need for improving the technology for splitting bamboo in the state . And one way of doing this is the introduction of mechanized bamboo splitting mach ines. Bamboo splits from the mechanised splitting machine come in various diameters, thickness and width s. Combining machine splits with hand split bamboo would give a wide variety of split si ze. Thus the variety in the raw materi al itself would be a driving force towards experimentations in newer products. The use of newer technology in splitting would ensure a regular supply of splits to the craftsmen. Moreover the con sistency in the si ze of the splits and the quality can also be regulated which would be an added advantage Machines used for splitting bamboo are expensive and most craftsmen do not prefer t his modern method of splitting to the traditional methods. It is also not possible to provide a machine in every craft cluster due to

Nationa l Institute of D::.;; I\] n , Ahmedabad, 2001~_ _ _ _ _ _ _~_ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.........::.....:..61

financial problems faced by the Government. Presently in Tripura, only Common Facility Center (CFC) run by the Central Government and (THDS) Tripura Handicraft Development Samiti owned by a private entrepreneur own the bamboo splitting machine. This number does not suffice in fulfilling the requirement of the craftsmen and is not enough for the existing economic condition. Instead of making the craftsmen dependent on Government Organisations or the Private Sector, they would be benefited if they could themselves take the role of an entrepreneur. b) Product innovation for different needs

One can also notice the need for the craft to be more consumer based . The output can be more when there are faster methods of splitting and design of such products that can be produced in large quantities with consistent quality. Unfortunately, in recent times, the youth are opting for different professions, which would provide them greater financial security. Daily wages received as a rickshaw puller or a wage labourer is more than what they would get in a day producing baskets. As a result more and more craftsmen are turning away from this craft. Existing traditional products can be categorized into four categories: • Loom-based products • Interlaced products • Constructed products and • Fine Handicrafts. These have been produced through generations and thus is seen a need for a market sawy approach so that returns are higher and there are improvement in the economic structure. Their earning depends on the quantity of products they produce per day, which becomes a major factor in determining the quality of the product. Institutes like the Bamboo and Cane Development

Institute (BCDI) have been set up to promote this ageold craft. It provides training to students interested in taking up this craft as a profession and admits those with a prior basic knowledge in this material. It is a Central Government Training Centre and offers training to interested students from all over the country. Due to meager amount of stipend and also lack of infrastructure, the only students are those from the state of Tripura or from neighbouring states. Feedback from some of the students there also revealed that some were not satisfied with the training programme as very limited number of products are taught and only inputs in the process of making those products are given.

and weft Nylon in the warp Double cloth weave with machine split bamboo weft to make holders Screens and chicks Checkered patterns with same yarn used in the warp and weft 3)

Products made from Machine split bamboo Window blinds with bamboo splits Garment hangers Table mats with thread passed through drill made holes through the bamboo split


Ideas for interlaced products Accessories like key chains Containers /bags /pouches and Packaging


Other utility items Jewelry from Bamboo culm/ carved bamboo culm Carved bamboo culm used as key rings, cutlery Pen stands from bamboo culms Bamboo straws


Architectural products Framework for exhibition purposes Laminated bamboo doors and windows

PRODUCT IDEAS : Keeping in mind the skill of the craftsrilen and interaction with marketing outlets the local craftsmen can be encouraged to innovate and produce newer products. Ideas for new products could be classified into different categories: 1) Making value added products out of mats woven on looms 2) Loom woven products with variations in weave or weft 3) Products made from machine splits 4) Ideas for interlaced products 5) Small utility items 1)


Products made out of mats woven on looms Book-covers Collage of mats to make lamp shades Mats curved in cylindrical fashion to make lamps Jewellery boxes Stationary

Catalytic workshops with marketing outlets like lifestyle stores, eco-friendly buyers which could get a market for the craftsmen, will help stimulate the local craftsmen to think in a different direction and give them a fresh approach towards innovation.

Loom woven products with variations in weave


c) Training programmes and Workshops Although local designers and those from outside the state have been there earlier to redesign products yet the Government has not been successful in reproducing them due to lack of infrastructure, financial disability and also at times due to their own inefficiency. Most of the products designed by designers lie in the museum in the Design Extension Centre as showpieces. If design innovation is to be promoted in the state it should also be seen that those, which are feasible and can be produced should be. This would bring more variety in the products and also increase the market horizon. The research and marketing part of the government in this field need more changes and improvement. It is essential that eco-friendly design houses or lifestyle stores and marketing outlets for bamboo products have a direct interaction with the local craftsmen. This can be initiated with innovation workshops conducted by the BCDI or other such organizations and institutes where there is a direct interaction of the craftsmen with innovators or designers and there is an equal amount of give and take between them. Openness towards accepting ideas from such innovators is a must and as much important is the understanding of certain limitations of the craftsmen. This would encourage and stimulate the urge to innovate and develop newer products which would find a place in the market. RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF BAMBOO AND BCDIINITIATIVES

Bamboo as a traditional material has been in use since ages. It is only in recent years that its importance as an eco-friendly, sustainable material has come to the fore. Thus is seen the greater interest in the plant, its uses and its marketability. This awareness has resulted in a number of projects in the research and promotion in

bamboo products of the North East India where it is found in abundance and is an ingrained part of the life and culture of the inhabitants. It is an effort to study the existing products as well as study the market for them, coming up newer products, which would sell more in the market at the same time retaining the ethnic touch of the traditional products. There are many eco-friendly organisations and life style stores, which manufacture products, made of only natural materials and promote and market them. Bamboo is one such natural material, which has a potential market, but in a state like Tripura it requires design awareness in life style products to compete in the global market. Tripura being a state of skilled craftsmen much research and product innovation has been carried out. The Central Government Institute the Bamboo anQ Cane . Development Institute is one such institute involved in teaching and promoting this craft. An effective course structure in BCDI could involve, Courses in Bamboo Plantation studies to make the craftsmen aware of its global importance Besides techniques, an interest in Product Innovation created. Innovation in different techniques and processes Conducting interactive workshops involving Design Institutes and Marketing Outlets with the craftsmen Market awareness for the craftsmen Budget planning for products to sell in the market

day, of using eco-friendly sustainable material as a part of lifestyle products, there is seen a growing interest in bamboo as the apt material. For a long time this invaluable resource wasn't taken advantage of and the skill had been untapped. But in recent times the global demand in bamboo as the material of the future has prompted many organizations and institutes, involved in this field, to take a keen interest in the plantation and use of this plant. The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, has played an important role in this field. Certain design innovations, comparative studies and initiative workshops carried out by the NID have been documented over the years. The NID has had a catalytic position regarding direct interactions with craftsmen and designers, which has resulted in many innovative designs worth taking note of in the global market. Over and above the official Government projects undertaken, the NID also introduces certain courses or programmes for the students to interact with craftsmen in their local surroundings and utilise their capabilities innovatively. Some of the books and reports worth mentioning in the project for the development of the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute are as follows: BACKGROUND PAPERS : 1)



Technology of the day demands a lot of synthetic and manmade materials in the day-to-day life. Simultaneously, there is also a growing awareness and need of the eco-friendly substance as a potential material of the future. According to trends of the present


Bamboo and Cane Crafts of NE India by M P Ranjan, Nilam Iyer and Ghanshyam Pandya, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1986 Ecology and Design : Lessons from the Bamboo Culture, M P Ranjan, Faculty of Industrial Design, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1991 Green Design and Bamboo Handicrafts: A scenario for research and action in the Asian region, M.P.Ranjan, Faculty of Industrial Design, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. 1995.


4) . F'ROM THE LAND TO THE PEOPLE: Bamboo as a Sustainable Human Development Resource for India, A development initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of India. M.P.Ranjan, Faculty of Industrial Design, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. 1999. 5) Rethinking Bamboo In 2000 AD, M.P.Ranjan, Faculty of Industrial Design, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. 2000. REPORTS 1.





J A Panchal & M P Ranjan, Institute of Crafts: Feasibility Report and Proposal for Rajasthan Small Industries Corporation, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1993 M P Ranjan, Jatin Bhaft, Madhudma Patni & Dr Darlie Koshy, CRAFT DESIGN: Major Education Programme, Cunicullum Development Committee, Revised Draft Report & Notes, INSTITUTE OF CRAFTS, Jaipur, 1997 J A Panchal, Pradyumna Vyas, H P Vyasa, S Ghosal, Kuntal De & Rajshekhar Narayain, Scope for Revitalizing: The Regional Design and, Technical Development Centre, Bangalor - Report of a Feasibility Study, Prepared for the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), New Delhi, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1999 Dr. I V Ramanuja Rao, Cane & Bamboo Technological Up gradation and Networking (DP liND 1971 1601 11 - 51 A), Consultancy Final Report, International Network for Bamboo & Rattan, Beijing, China, 2001 INBAR, Cane & Bamboo Technology and Resource Centre -Strategy Paper, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR),

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

Beijing, 2001 6. TI FAC, Bamboo based Products -A National Initiative, An Approach Paper, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, 2001 7. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Cane & Bamboo in the Northeast Technological Upgradation and Networking, Programme Support Document (IND/97/160), UNDP - Government of India, New Delhi. 1999 8. M P Ranjan & A K Bansal, Bamboo laminated Boards of China: A Survey Report - Part 1, Sponsored by Asia Pacific Centre for Technology Transfer (APCD), Delhi & United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New Delhi, 1999 9. I V Ramanuja Rao, Development With Bamboo and Rattan in Meghalaya & the Broa~er NorthEastern India Context: Issues & Options, International Network of Bamboo and Rattan (iN BAR), Beijing, nd 10. FREYA, Report on the Training Programme, Training ofTrainers in Designing Complementary Materials & Fabrics, Cane & Bamboo Centre, Guwahati, UNIDO Contract No 2001 1079 Project no. DG liND 1 971 160, FREYA, Kolkata, 2001 11. M P Ranjan, Yrjo Wiherheimo, Yanta H T Lam, Haruhiko Ito & G Upadhayaya, Bamboo Boards & Beyond: Bamboo, the sustainable, ecofriendly industrial material of the future, (CDROM), supported by United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP), Asia Pacific Centre for Technology Transfer (APCD) and endorsed by International Network of Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) & International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 , 12. Mayura Ingle & Rupal Chauhan, Bamboo Processign Machinery, at CFe of NEHDC,







Lokhara, Guwahati, Assam, field study report for UNDP/APCD, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad,2001 Susanth C S & Deborah Zama, Revitalization of Bamboo & Cane Development Institute, Agartala, Tripura: Report of First Field Visit, Sponsored by Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry ofTextiles, Government of India, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad,2001 Bamboo & Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Technical Data Sheet No BCDIII, Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Government of India, Bardowali, 1977,1986 & 1994 Susanth C S & Meghna Ajit, Design Development Workshop on Cane & Bamboo Products Agartala, Tripura, Sponsored by Directorate of Handloom, Handicrafts and Sericulture, Government of Tripura, National Institute fo Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 Deborah Zama & Richa Ghansiyal, Field visit report on Cane and Bamboo Craft in Silchar (District Cachar), Karimganj, (District Karimganj) and Badarpur Ghat (District Hailakhandi) of Assam, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 Susanth C S, A Visit to Bangkok & Chiangmai for North Eastern Handicrafts and Handloom Development Coroporation Ltd. (NEHHDC), Study of Bamboo Handicrafts Export Markets, Sponsored by Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry ofTextiles, Government of India, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad,2001 Susanth C S, A Field Survey in the North Eastern Region Guwahati, Shillong, Mangoldoi, Tezpur, Barpeta, Sponsored by North Eastern Handicrafts and Handloom









DevelopmentCoroporation Ltd. (NEHHDC), National Institute fo Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 Mr Haruhiko Itoh, Deborah Zama & Richa Ghansiyal, Field Visit Report to Ratnagiri - Case study on the potential of Agri-Packaging for Alphonso mangoes in Bamboo as a timber substitute., National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad,2001 G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Development and Environment (N.E. Unit), Identification and Utilisation of Bamboo and Cane Resources and Related Land Use Patterns in the Apatani Plateau: An analytical Study and Documentation, G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Development and Environment, Ita nagar, 1999 United Nations Development Programe (UNDP), Cane and Bamboo Sector Development, (IND/981780), Programme Support Document, UNDP - Government of India, New Delhi, 1999 Marketing & Service Extension Centre (MSEC), First State Level Marketing Workshop on Handicrafts of Tripura, Office of he Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, Government of India, Agartala, 1998 CRAFTSWORLD, Resource Inventory on Handloom and Handicraft for Tripura, CRAFTSWORLD, Agartala, 1999 Forest and Industries & Commerce Departments, Proceedings of the Workshop on Development of Bamboo Sector in Tripura and other North-Eastern States, organized by Government of Tripura and Planning Commission, Government of India, Forest and Industries & Commerce Departments, Agartala, 2001 K C Koshy, Bamboo Collection at Tropical Botanic Garden, Palode: from Proceedings of the symposium on Rare Endangered and

Endemic plants of the Western Ghats, Kerala Forest Department, pp 174- 180, Peechi, 1991

On the basis of the fieldwork and our reflections on it, it has been observed that there is a saturation point in the market for the existing products. This calls for an urgent need to break away from the conventional products and make newer products, which can face competition in the global market as eco-friendly products. Certain constrains like time, finance and labour are to be kept in mind while designing such products.



Tripura originally known as "Tui-para" is one of the seven sisters of the North East India.




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Tripura is the smallest state of the Indian Union , It is bounded on the North, West and South by Bangladesh and flanked by Assam and Mizoram to the East.

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THE NAME: Legend has it that the name Tripura owes its origin to Tripura, the son of Da itya, the 39 th descendant of Druhya. According to another source, the name was given to the land in honour of the temple at Udaipur once considered as the second Tirtha or sacred shrine; it was dedicated either to Tripuradhaba the Sun God or to Tripureshwari the mistress of the three worlds. Again according to another source, Tripura is a corrupt form of "Tui-para" which in Tripura dialect means 'land adjoining waters.' THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: The early history of Tripura is shrouded in the mists of legend and tradition. The history of the state relates to two distinct periods- The traditional period as recorded in the "Rajmala" (the chronicles of the Tripura rajas) - The historical period recorded in the writings of the Mohammedan historians as well as the Rajmala. It is not very easy to define the limits of this ancient land at any particular time. The kingdom has been gained through conquests and possession areas. What is most probable is that a dominating tribe, the Tripuris, were able to carve out a small principality and in course of time the tribal chief got himself appointed as the Raja or Chief of a particular territory. The ancestors of the Tripura Rajas used the title ' Pha' after their names; in Tripuri language 'Pha' means father. The Tripura Rajas are said to have assumed the t itle Manikya from the time of Ratna Pha who was defeated by Sultan Mughisuddin Tughril in about 1280 A.D and upon his submission was honoured by the Muslim ruler with the title 'Manikya' . It was during his rule that Hinduism made a significant dent in this predominantly tribal area . Another significant note is to be made of Dhanya Manikya, a great patron of art and literature who was successful in abolishing human sacrifices wh ich as in other parts of India was associated with the

worship of Shiva. THE LAND: Tripura is a land of hills and dales with pla in and marshy lands and jungles. The terrain of the land is mostly hilly. Before independence, the state was known as Parbatya Tripura meaning hilly region . About 70% of the area constitutes hills and small hillocks, the hillocks being known as til/as in local language. And the rest of the area is situated in the river basins and in the narrow strips of low-lying lands between tillaslocally known as Lunga lands. At present, the territorial area of the smallest state in the Indian Union is10,477 and has a population of about 33 lakhs. The main hill ranges are the Jampai, Sakhan Tlang, Langtarai, Athara Mura and Bara Mura . The state has three districts- (a) Tri~ura West with Agartala as its headquater (state capital), (b) Tripura North with Kailasahar as its headquater and (c) Tripura South with Udaipur as its headquater. It is bounded on the North, West and South by Bangladesh and flanked by Assam and Mizoram to the East. Agartala is the state capital. It is connected to the rest of India by only one road that runs through the hills to the Border of Cachar district in Assam . THE CLIMATE: The climate of the state is generally hot and humid with the average maximum temperature being 35 degree in May-June and the minimum temperature being 10.5 degree in December-January. The monsoon starts generally in April and continues up to September. Summer starts in March and continues upto May and is followed by the rainy season for about three- four months i. e. May to August and the pleasant season lasts for about two months during September and October and then follows winter till February. '

THE SOIL: The soil of Tripura is laetrile in hills and alluvial in the flat lands. Due to the exposure to the tropical sun and the torrential rain the soils in the tillas or high lands is very deficient in organic matters and plant nutrients. The tilla soil is sandy loam, acidic and devoid of humus. The valley soil is richer in organic matter because soil is transported from the tillas .The soil of the plain area is called na/(arable) and this has less sand content than the other soils. THE FORESTS: The state can be divided into two broad regions covered with . -Evergreen forests and -Deciduous forests. Vast areas have been occupied by a great variety of bamboo throughout the hills of the territory interrupted by scattered trees and other plants like creepers, vegetables and fruits.

THE RIVERS: The important rivers in the reg ion are The Howrah, The Fenny, The Muhari, The Dhalai, The Huri, The Khowai , The Manu, The Longai, The Deo and The Gomati. The Gomati is considered to be the sacred of all the rivers, which is believed to gush down from its heavenly abode to the earth .





The natives have strongly marked Mongolian features with flat faces and thick lips. They are not shorter in stature than the Bengalis and are far more muscular and strongly made. Many of them have fair complexion . There are two major racial elements, namely the Indo-Aryans represented by the Bengalis and the Indo-Mongoloids represented by the tribes. Here one can see a meeti ng point of two ways of life where two cultures meet without loss of identity and individuality. The people of Tripura can be classified into three categories- the original residents, the immigrants and the recent migrants f rom Bangladesh. The triba ls or the original inhabitants of the state can be said to be the most creative of the lot. Looking at their lifestyle one can also conclude that they are one of the most self sufficient communities.

17) Lepcha 18) Khasi 19) Uchai Out of ninteen enlisted tribes found to be settled in Tripura today, 8 mainly, Tripuri, Reang, Noatia, Jamatia,Halam, Kuki, Chaimal,and Uchai are known to have migrated to this state in the historical period and as such they are regarded as the original settlers of Tripura. The list of emigrated tribes include the rest i.e. Chakma, Mog, Garo, Khasi, Lushai, Bhutia, Lepcha, Bhel, Munda, Oraon and Santa!. The Chakmas and Mogs are known to have migrated from the Chittagong hill tracts and Arakan not earlier than 18th C. Lushai, Garo and Khasi are Assam tribes.

THE ORIGINAL RESIDENTS: The people belong ing t o the Scheduled tribes claim to be the original residents of the land. There are nineteen scheduled tribes in the state: 1) Tripuri 2) Reang 3) Jamatia 4) Chakma 5) Halam 6) Noatia 7) Mog 8) Kuki 9) Lushai 10) Bhil 11) Bhutia 12) Chaimal 13) Garo 14) Munda 15) Oraon 16) Santal

Nationa l Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

The Lepchas and the Bhutias who hail from the Northern frontier of India ie. From Bhutan, sikkim and North Bengal are the lesser known tribes of Tripura. They may have come here for the purpose of service and trade. Behl, Munda,Oraon and Santal are East Indian tribes are hardly 70/80 years old. They have settled in Tripura mostly as tea garden labourers. Some of them have become brick cleaning workers or farm labourers.


The Tripurisclaim to be the original residents of the state. The former rulers emerged from th is community and are believed to be descendants of the Kshatriyas. These Tripuris are generally known as the Deb Barma who belong to the Indo-Chinese stock with an admixture of Aryan blood . A section of this community was much influenced by the Bengalis and it resulted in the emergence of a new community called

the Natun (new) Tripuri - a sort of a breakaway group of the original (Puran) Tripuris. Tripuris who were close to the royal family and who settled in Agartala are quite advanced in education. But the economic status of the hill settlers has not improved much . The Puran Tripuris live in Tong or pile houses on the hilltops. These bamboo huts, situated on a raised platform about 5 to 6 ft above ground are supported by poles. This is a means to avoid wild animals. The houses seldom contained more than one room . They practice ;hooming (shift cultivation) fetch wood from the forests and sell vegetables and bamboo . The method of ;hoom cultivation was as follows - each family selected a piece of bamboo jungle for cultivation . Jungles were cut down and cleared in the month of December and set fire in the month of March . After the first rain they sow seeds of cotton, paddy and chilly in the ground . After two years of cultivation they begin to move to new lands in search of new lands. The tribals who practiced this had a self sufficient economy. Crops grown are cotton maize, paddy, pumpkin etc. Their staple food is rice, pork, chicken, dried fish and vegetables. They are very fond of drink and brew their own requirement. The women weave cloth on their loin looms. The lower garment is known as the pasraand the breast cover is known as Riah or Risha. Their loin loom is a very simple device made of only a few pieces of bamboo. Weaving was known to most women who produce their needs or clothing themselves . Most of them are Hindus and they have no written script of their own . Important yearly worships of the Tripuris are the Kharchi and Kerpuja. During the Kerpuja for nearly 32 hours curfew is clamped down in villages where long bamboo are worshiped . The Reangs are the next most important group . They are mostly divided into two divisions Meksha or



Mechka and the Marchai or Malchai . They have very little feuds among them. The community is governed by a well defined hierarchical institution; The chief enjoys the title Rai. During the royal regime the Reangs had a reputation for their martial quality. They are also generally Hindus who believe in Sakta cult. They are believers of animism that all beings, animals, plants, rivers and mountains are endowed with a living spirit. They also practice ;hoom cultivation . Their traditional dress is very simple and is also woven on the primitive loom called the loin loom. The women wear the pasra and the risha. They believe in animism though some of them are followers of Hinduism. Jamatia comes from 'Jamayet' meaning gathering or mobilization. In earlier days they also constituted the fighting force . The Chakmas are the 4th largest tribe. Most of them are Buddhists. Their chiefs are called the Dewans. They also like the other tribes depend on jhooming. In their religious practices one can find a blend of Vaishnavism, Buddhism and also Islam . They celebrate the funeral ceremony with pomp and dignity where the dead body is kept in a wooden box for 5/7 days after which men and women assemble to burn it and make gifts according to their means. THE IMMIGRANTS: The immigrants settled in tripura mostly from undivided Bengal, Assam and some from Bihar and Orissa in pursuit of their livelihood. RECENT MIGRANTS: The recent migrants are those who have taken refuge for an honourable existence in this territory after partition of India due to communal disturbances in the

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

adjoining districts of East Bengal. Due to insurgency in the state of late, this community has come to the fore and has been the propagator of the Bamboo craft. Moreover the tribals who weave their garments on the loin loom are not so proficient in the mechanism of the frame loom and such screen weaving would be new. All these communities use bamboo extensively in their daily life mainly used for making houses, fences, roofs, fish catching instruments, storage, transporting materials. The tribals also use bamboo for religious praqices. FESTIVALS:

Kharche Pu;a: Of the many festivals held in the region, the puja that holds pride of place is the worship of the fourteen deities popularly known as the Kharche Puja. It is celebrated in July in the temple of the 14 Gods at Agartala . The word Kharchiis a cor'tupt form of Khya meaning earth. Therefore it is the worship of the earth. Ker Pu;a:This is held two weeks after Kharchi puja . The puja is held within a specified boundary notified beforehand in the official gazette. During the puja neither can go outside the boundary nor can anybody enter it. The meaning of Ker is boundary or specified area. It has a connection to the legend of Lord Rama . One of the reasons for the puja is to safeguard the interest of the people from any calamity and disease and the other is to save people from external aggression .


the propitiation of the deity would make the people happy and prosperous. It is a community festival. There is dancing and rejoicing after the puja. During this festival sacrifice of cocks is done. It is popular among the Tripuris and the Reangs.

Ganga Pu;a: This is also a community festival where four to five villages join together to celebrate the occasion . Here people gather by the streamside, pare three pieces of bamboo into beautiful flowers, the villagers then build a temple with bamboo in the middle of the stream and the ageless rituals take place amidst joy and splendour. In this festival sacrifice of goats and buffaloes are done to save people from epidemics. Durga Pu;a and Dewali: These two are common festivals where all tribals and non tribals join in. FOLKSONGS:

The melodious bamboo flute called the sumu banshiaccompanies the folk songs of Tripura. Folk songs depict a many sided picture of the people, its social, ritual and religious structure. The folk literature is very rich though it is only a dialect. The simple village people express their joys and sorrows imagination and love through songs and tales. It is said that Tripuri mothers give instruction to their daughters and sons-in-law through songs. Moral lessons are imparted to the youth and children .

Gada Pu;a:This puja is performed on the 7 th day of baishak (April). Two deities Kalia and Garia are worshipped. In this puja the top end of a long bamboo is bent in a particular manner to assume the image of the deity. The image is then framed into a bamboo barrel and enthroned on a platform . It is believed that


BIBLIOGRAPHY Ranjan, M. P., Iyer, Neelam and Pandya, Ghanshyam. Bamboo and Cane Crafts of Northeast India. Ahmedabad, National Institute of Design .1983.

Directorate of Census Operations, Tripura, Tripura.HandiCraft Survey Report:Cane and bamboo.Tripura,Census of India.1981 .

Brown, Rachel. The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book. Routledge & Kegan Paul, Londan and Henley.1979

Marketing & Service Extension Centre. First State Level Marketing Workshop on Trtpura on 18th August 1998.Tripura, Agartala.

Broudy, Eric. The Book ofLooms, A History of the Handloom from Ancient Times to the Present, New York Cincinnati Toronto London Melbourne. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company

Forest and Commerce Departments, Government of Tripura With assistance from the Planning Commission, Government of India. Proceedings of the Workshop on "Development of Bamboo Sector in Tripura and other North-Eastern States" Agartala (2021 February 2001)

Farrelly, David. The Book of Bamboo. San Francisco,Sierra Club Books.1938. Austin, Robert and Ueda, Koichiro, Bamboo.New York, Weatherhilllnc.1973.

Dev Burman, Sri S.B.K. The Tribes of Tripura. Director of Tribal Research government Tripura. Thakurta, S.N.Guha. Tripura; Trust.1985.

National Book

Thorpe, Azalea Stuarte and Larsen, Jack Lenor. Elements of WeavIng, A complete Introducti~n to the Art and Techniques. Garden City, New York. Doubleday & Company, Inc.1967 . Rossbach, Ed. 40 Years of Exploration and Innovation In FIbre Art Asheville, North Carolina, Lark Books.1990. Book of Bamboo, ISBN4-02-258315-0. â&#x20AC;˘

Shogoro, Sato. From Bamboo to Bamboo Craft Products.1933. Student: Panwar, Arvind , Guide: Ranjan, M.P, Diploma Project, Pannels, Chics and Screens, Bamboo for Interiors 1995. Forest research division. Bamboo and Canes of Tripura, Agartala,Government of Tripura Forest Department.1995. Craftsworld (A support Service Organisation); Resource Inventory on Handloom and Handicraft for Trtpura.Agartala .1999.

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001





INDEX A: Aralia,village(craft cluster) Shri Bhajan Sharma,(entrepreneur) Handicrafts Purchase Centre of "Purba", 40-42

B: Bamboo: a tradition, 4-6 Bamboo: a material, 7-8 Bamboo in Tripura, 9-11 Barakbaansh, 10 Bombaansh, 10 Bamboo productsand processes 13-1 5 Bhardia instrument, 28 Bamboo and Cane Development Institute (BCDI), 35-36 Board decoration, 44 BCDI Initiatives, 63

c: The culm of bamboo, 8 Constructed handicrafts, 15 C loth beam, 28 Common Facility Centre,(CFC), 37 Curing of bamboo(naturally), 42 Churilam,(Craft Cluster), 46-53 Government Training Centre, 48 Mohan Das,Craftsman-Entreperneur, 49 Gauranga Namo, Craftsman-Entreperneur, 49-50 Binod Namo, Craftsman,Boat maker, 51 Churilam,South, 51-53 Chalni ( sieve), 52 Chopsticks, 56 0: Dolubaansh, 11 Domestic storage products, 15 The Dao (knife), 17 Drafting and denting in the pit loom, 27 Dyeing of bamboo Synthetic dyeing, 36

National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

Vegetable dyeing, 36 Design Extension Centre, 37 Designs of loom woven mats, 43 Doors and windows, 38,42 Dola(grain storing baskett 41 Design Speak, 60

Rathish Deb, Craftsman and Entrepreneur Uogendranagart42-43 Sunil Roy Craftsman and Entrepreneur Uodendranagar), 44 Jhunea(kitchen stand), 54 Jaakdr (fish catching instrument), 54



Economic Structure of Tripura, 12

Konkaisbaansh, 10 Khaki mat, 41 Kulha(winnowing fan), 52

F: Flowering of bamboo, 8 Fish catching instruments, 15 The Frame loom of Tripura, 31-33 Tools used in the Frame loom, 31 Parts of the frame loom, 31 The process of setting up the warp in the frame loom, 32 Structure of the frame loom, 32 Working mechanismof the frame loom, 33 Folding screen or the Room divider, 41-42 Fences made from flattened bamboo, 47 Fine Handicrafts, 15

G: Growth of the bamboo plant, 8 Garia Puja in Tripura, 5


H: Hand splitting technique of the bamboo, 17-20 Houses made of bamboo, 47,51 I: Interlaced product, 14


L: Looms and Weaving, 24-33 Loom based products, 14

M: Moisture content in bamboo, 8 Makhalbaansh, 4 Mritingabaansh, 4 Mulibaansh, 6 Machine splitting of bamboo, 21-23 Measuring device of bamboo, 21 Blade radial splitter, 21 Connecting table, 22 Width sizing machine, 22 Finer stick making, 22 Stick polishing machine, 22 Stick sizing machine, 23 Heating chamber, 23 Marketing and Service Extension Centre, (Agartala), 38 Majlishpur (Craft Cluster), 44-46 Nibaran Debnath, Craftsman-Entrepreneur, 44-45 Makhan Bhowmick,craftsman-entreperneur, 46 Mudha, the making process, 48 Marketing and Its Channels, 59

Jogendranagar (craft cluster), 42-45


N: The Node of the bamboo plant, 8 Nalchor, (Craft Cluster), 54 NID Initiatives, 63

Treatment for the insect attack, 21,36 Twill weave, 43 Tukri( storage basket), 53 Tripura Handicraft Development Samiti,(THDS), Entrepreneur (Agartala), 55-57

0: Ornaments made of the bamboo, 11 Organisation of the carft based industry, 27

P: Paorabaansh, 11 The Pldha (stool), 17 Pit loom in Tripura, 25 Tools used in the pit loom, 18 Pre warping process, 26 warping process, 26 tensioning the pit loom warp, 27 Drafting denting of pit loom warp, 27 Parts of the pit loom, 25,27 Plan view of pit loom, 29 Shedding mechanism of the pit loom, 30 Plain weave, 41,43 Patterned screens, 41 The Process of Learning, 58 Product Ideas, 62

R: The Rhizome of bamboo, 8 Roof,47

s: Split bamboo product, 14 The stand, 17 The splitting methods of the bamboo, 16-23 Stencil printing on the mat, 45

T: A Tong house, 5 Tripura Handicraft Handloom and Sericulture, 35

Nati0!1_al ~stitute of ~~~i9.!:._ Ahmed_abad. 2001



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The Bamboo Journey: Bamboo Weaving of West Tripura  

This research project delves into the micro/ macro industries created by the bamboo craft in Tripura, a North-eastern state of India. This b...

The Bamboo Journey: Bamboo Weaving of West Tripura  

This research project delves into the micro/ macro industries created by the bamboo craft in Tripura, a North-eastern state of India. This b...