We examined the patterns of woven cloth used by various tribes in a display at Bhubaneswar’s Tribal Museum. The Family confirmed my impression. Many of these patterns are in wide use today. How did that happen? I remembered conversations with a grandaunt. She was an artist who’d turned to textile design while she was in art school. Textiles were very political in her time, when opposition to colonial rule involved renouncing textiles made in England. I know that she travelled extensively in Odisha and got to know local artists and learnt their art. Given the politics of her time, she may not have been alone. Such people were possibly the conduit through which tribal designs seeped into the general culture even before they became trendy.
But why did tribes stick to particular designs? I have no idea, but a scholarly paper pointed out that this is not unusual at all. That set me thinking of Scottish clan tartans. And that led me to wonder whether some of these tribal designs are derived from each other. I was so engrossed in the designs that I forgot to take photos which identify each piece. So now I’m left with questions and no way of answering them. All I can ask you is to enjoy the sight of these weaves.