Tales from Nagaland

Tales from Nagaland

This is a man from Nagaland.

Oooh where's that?

Nagaland is an independent state deep in the mountains of the Burmese-Indian border. It's a place where people live alongside porcupines and pangolins. Where elephants, tigers and leopards roam free.

What is life like up there?

Well it's naturally barricaded from the rest of the world by mountains and fast rivers, so its more rural villages still exist as they have done for thousands of years. They are disparate people, comprised of 20 tribes, hundreds of subtribes, and over 60 dialects, but are united by their deep-set traditions and animist beliefs. 

Life in Nagaland is almost exclusively agricultural, and for centuries cottage industries such as weaving, woodwork and basketry have supplemented household income and provided essential products. However, as is happening world-over, Chinese imports have started to infiltrate even the furthest reaches of Nagaland, and handmade products are being usurped by cheap factory wares. 

And what has it got to do with Kalinko?

It is where the designs for our brand new Naga Wall Hangings and Naga Bean Bags come from! We wanted products which tell amazing stories, and which will take your children on wild adventures in their imaginations. What better place to start than in the deepest depths of Nagaland.....?


The Fabric

Naga Fabric

The cream fabric is handwoven on an old treadle loom (the one that looks a bit like an organ), then the little figures are sewn on by hand. 

The Maker

Here's Ma Dim Tawng hand-embroidering the figures onto our fabrics. 

The maker embroidering our naga fabrics

She is from northern Chin state, not far from Nagaland. She is nervous that Naga and Chin traditions will be lost as the world becomes more international, and that hand-weaving and embroidery will go by the wayside, so works them into her designs.

We asked her to pick out her favourite little figures. Here's what she said:


The Stories

The Great Hornbill

Giant Hornbills

The great hornbill is our state symbol, so is very important for us. It represents faithfulness and trustworthiness, which we are known for.


Rice Pounding

Rice pounding embroidery

We don't have machines to pound our rice, which you have to do to separate the husks from the grain. We do it by hand, usually in twos or threes to get the job done faster. It's a very common sight and sound in any village.


Baby in a Sling

Embroidery of baby in a sling

The whole family helps work the land, which means babies go to work too! They usually snooze on their mother's back in a sling.


Traditional Dress

Embroidery of chin national dress

We're very proud of our national dress, although these days we only wear it on festival days. Each tribe has a different outfit with very elaborate headdresses.



Embroidery of hand weaving

Traditionally we all weave our own clothes and blankets by hand. It's an important part of our culture, but one which is disappearing.


Khawng Ye

Embroidery of drinking homemade rice wine

We make a very traditional homemade drink from fermented rice. If there's a celebration in the village, everyone will bring a big pot and share it, drinking it through a long bamboo straw. There is always dancing and lots of music!


Buffalo Horn

Embroidery of a buffalo horn

The water buffalo is very important in our culture, and we use their horns for lots of things: for drinking out of, for carrying water, for blowing to get people's attention. It's a very traditional symbol for us.


The Final Product

Naga Wall Hanging


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