Brave Assamese warriors before their final departure to the battle field, would tightly tie the tongali, a waistband, handwoven with love by their wives. An act, “kokalot tongali bondha” meaning to tie a tongali at the waist, became over the years a metaphor for getting ready for a challenge, an event or maybe even a school test. A humble version of this famed girdle, gifted in the 1950’s to the National Museum, New Delhi, by the Cottage Industries Museum, Guwahati (Assam) has been chosen to be the “Object of the Month”, to celebrate the National Handloom Day. This is the very same day in the history of India, 7th of August 1905, when the Swadeshi Movement was proclaimed, to discard everything foreign and moving back to indigenous textiles and products. A stand to stop flooding of Indian markets with cheap industrial textiles by the British.
The tongali with its delicate floral butis and fringes (dohi-bota), illuminated by the spotlights, hangs with pride representing every handwoven textile from rural India, hoping to gain our attention for revival and appreciation of our woven heritage.