A casual attempt to reimagine the Naga textiles with just one weaver in 1993, found instant favour outside the remote landlocked state of Nagaland as they were in a contemporary styling and yet retained its traditional flavour. With the initial samples itself finding its spot on the window display of a leading lifestyle store, this backyard activity saw a quantum jump from 3 weavers initially to 50 in the same year. And perhaps for the first time, textiles woven on the most ancient if not primitive loom, catering exclusively to commercial demand, found its way to many chic stores and boutiques outside Nagaland. Woven exclusively by home based women, these textiles represented the exquisite skills of the Naga weavers who took to weaving in between primary agriculture & other household chores. Assured of a regular and healthy income, soon most of them took up weaving professionally and they in turn passed on their skills to the younger generation of weavers.

In the past two and a half decades, Heirloom Naga has been instrumental in showcasing "MadeinNagaland" textiles to customers not only within the country but to a very discerning clientele in several countries.

By innovating on existing Naga textiles, Heirloom Naga first introduced braided tassels as a value addition onto soft furnishings and started a veritable trend in the weaving sector of Nagaland. We also take pride in reintroducing cotton and eri silk into the handloom sector as there was a total shift to other artificial fibres then, thus creating an awareness of natural fibres.

Heirloom Naga intends in keeping the cultural legacy alive through the craft of loin-loom weaving and also offer livelihood options to a large community of weavers in the rural landscape of Nagaland and adjoining states. These cultural custodians work within the confines and sanctums of their own homes and in their own pace while owning total ownership of their loom. By bringing doorstep employment to our women,we believe that this not only stems migration and encourages a circular economy but most importantly, it encourages our women to be stakeholders in continuing their traditional legacy. Notwithstanding the numerous challenges that it faced mostly in terms of logistics and infrastructure bankruptcy, Heirloom Naga has successfully placed Nagaland on the international map . With clients in several countries today, we pride in our role of promoting and preserving our textiles legacy and in providing a sustainable income to our weavers. In a society where weaving is considered taboo for men, our primary goal remains to empower women and employ them gainfully. Over the years, our strength comes from the multiple clusters we have formed with our resilient weavers in both urban and rural areas. The weavers are initially trained by our experienced supervisors in adhering to uniformity and international standards. The woven cloth then undertakes quite a journey from nondescript homes to markets outside the state.

By providing direct employment to more than 450 weavers now across the Naga tribes of Zeliang, Chakesang, Phom, Konyak, Angami, Sangtam, Chang , Yimchungr and Sumi currently, Heirloom Naga hopes to include more women from other Naga tribes.

Heirloom Naga believes in Honouring Hands.




MEET JESMINA ZELIANG:

Founder Jesmina Zeliang has been reshaping the Naga textile industry since launching her first collection in the early nineties. By combining traditional motifs with a contemporary context, she is a pioneer in reviving ancestral skills and defining a new approach for indigenous craft.

When not designing her own products and working with local artisans, Zeliang runs numerous projects. She is the founder/proprietor of Cane Concepts, and the founding partner of Konyak, a North-East specialty store in Guwahati and Dibrugarh (Assam).

She is also the founding partner of Razhü Pru, a heritage hotel in Kohima, Nagaland. And as one of the members of Committee of Administration of Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), she was elected as the first woman president to preside over the Indian Handicrafts and Gift Fair in 2018.

Over the years, Zeliang has led delegations representing the North-East Region and India to a global audience.

She was selected by the US Government to represent India under the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2013 for “Economic Integration Through Women’s Empowerment.”

She has given a huge boost to exports of cane and bamboo and artisanal handcrafted textiles from the North-East region since the early nineties. She is actively engaged in empowering women from marginal communities and tribes in North-East India.

Awards:

1. JSW Prize for Contemporary Craftsmanship, 2019.
2. Governor’s Medal for contribution to the field of Art and Crafts, 2014.
3. Woman Entrepreneurship Award by FLO, FICCI, North East Chapter, 2008.
4. Awarded the Kamla Devi Award for Crafts by the Crafts Council of India, 2004.