Efforts are required to preserve kapdaganda shawls that embody the rich heritage of Dongria Kondh tribes of Niyamgiri. The weaving of kapdaganda could also provide a livelihood for the disadvantaged community.
It seems that the Dongria Kondhs, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) who live in the Niyamgiri Hills of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts in southern parts of Odisha, now have to fight for their ethnic embroidered kapdaganda shawl, which is being replicated by some designers for the past few years.
The kapdaganda shawl of Dongria Kondh tribes that symbolize their rich heritage, culture and identity is now being replicated and being sold out online by various apparel sites. Researchers of tribal culture and tradition feel it is high time that the state government should get geographical indication (GI) tag for Kapdaganda, the prestigious shawl of Dongria Kondh tribes.
Every evening in the small hamlets spread over Niyamgiri hills, the Dongria women of all ages sit in their verandahs, individually or in a group, busy embroidering Kapdaganda, the shawl that symbolizes their heritage and ethnic identity. Woven with excellent craftsmanship, Kapdaganda is mostly woven by unmarried girls. They embroider this shawl for their own use or they gift it to their brother and father as a symbol of affection.
The unmarried women of Dongria Kondh community embroider this shawl to gift it to their beloved ones as a token of love. “We wear this beautifully embroidered Kapdaganda shawl on every occasion, whether it’s a marriage, festival or any other occasion. The shawl not only differentiates us from other tribes but also empowers us. So, this shawl is available in every household,” Sabri Kutruka of Khambesi village in Kurli Panchayat, told VillageSquare.in. “Also, women get happiness while embroidering the shawls.” Sabri is now engaged in embroidering a shawl for her daughter.
The off-white coarse cloth mainly used as a raw material for Kapdaganda is procured from the Domb community, a local Scheduled Caste community, by bartering harvested crops. The motifs are embroidered on the cloth by a needle using three different colored threads. The three colors are green, yellow and red. Each color carries an implication manifested with socio-cultural values.
Green symbolizes their fertile mountains and hills, prosperity and development of their community, while yellow stands for peace, smile, togetherness, health and happiness. It is also regarded as sign of auspiciousness. Red is the symbol of blood, energy, power and revenge. It also signifies appeasing of deities by offering blood sacrifice of animals and birds.