Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Thank you!

Wishing you a new year filled with new joys and new beginnings. 

Thank you for being with us all through the last year.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Weavers of the Misty Mountains

All across India, handloom weaving is an age-old and traditional art form. The advent of mechanised looms more or less killed this art and it's no longer a much sought after occupation. Nevertheless, there are pockets all over where artisans are being encouraged to keep traditional weaving alive in a world where fashion is a fickle mistress.

Hills hidden by the clouds in Nagaland

In India's North East, especially Arunachal Pradesh, machine looms have not made their presence felt in the same manner as the rest of the country. Women across the region learn to weave at a very young age and become adept at handling the portable, small-ish looms known as backstrap or loin looms.(Watch this video).

Trademark colours of a Naga shawl

A backstrap loom in an Adi Gallong home
in Arunachal Pradesh

Unlike, the rest of India, the weavers in the North East are only women. Not some women or of certain tribes, but women in all the tribes seem to be well versed in the art of weaving. Nowhere did I come across any men involved in the process. 

In Arunachal Pradesh, one of the weavers from the Adi Gallong tribe said, "Cloth with a simple design and just one or two colours takes around 6-7 days to weave. But it's tiring work since I have to sit in a fixed position for hours on end. If the design is more complex, it takes much longer." She is one of the more enterprising women who weaves not just for her own household but also on custom orders from other households in her town who don't have the time or the inclination to weave anymore. 

A lady weaver in Arunachal Pradesh

The cloth woven by the women at home are worn on special occassions while for everyday wear, mainland India's (and I suspect China's) fabrics especially synthetics have made inroads into these interior regions. Demand for hand woven cotton or woollen cloth has naturally, fallen. (Read more here).

The government has set up centres for handloom weaving where people are taught the skill and supported with marketing and finance. But they are mostly in the towns which are far from the villages and not as accessible due to lack of public transport and not so great road conditions.

Looms at the Govt. run crafts centre
in Aalo, Arunachal Pradesh

Traders from the northern states of India bring in the coloured threads and yarns required to weave the beautiful fabrics. If the women dyed the threads in the past, it does not seem to be the practise anymore. It makes cotton more expensive while synthetics become more affordable.

A shop in Kohima selling woollen yarn and cotton threads

In Nagaland, since the larger towns are more accessible, there is a demand for their traditional weaves mostly from tourists. Besides the traditional shawls which the state is so famous for, there are bags, stoles, jackets etc also available. The drawback though is that the more intricate and elaborate cloth is not woven much. Less expensive and easier to market cloth is largely sold in all the souvenir shops.

A shawl of the Chakhesang tribe at the State Museum
in Kohima, Nagaland. The museum is the only place
you are likely to find an intricate shawl like this 
among a family's 

Sling bags with traditional Naga motifs & designs

Hand-woven shawl with traditional Naga motifs

Hand-woven shawl in a traditional Naga design
Available at A Full Moon

A hand-woven scarf from Arunachal Pradesh
Available at A Full Moon

Given the area is not very accessible and there are innumerable other hardships to deal with, the people I met were very self-sufficient. They have to rely on their own skills and devices to make life a little easier for themselves. (Read more here).

Inspite of that, the people were so friendly and hospitable that it's unbelievably heart warming. A reason to go back again and again. Most definitely! 

Other posts on the North East in this blog: 

To market, to market 

How green is my valley 

North East of India 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

To market, to market

Fresh vegetables and fruits are pretty common place in our markets here in India. Whether it's the main markets, the street corners or the handcarts that come rolling into our neighbourhoods each day, fresh produce is always easily accessible. 

On this trip to North East last year, the itinerary included visits to the markets in the main towns. The local markets are always a good place to 'people watch' :) It's also a good place to gather what goes into the local cuisine (quite fascinating), the fashion trends etc. Especially, since the area wasn't very touristy, it gave us a fairly authentic picture of local life in these parts of the North East. 

The first market was in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. Ziro is a small, picturesque town surrounded by hills, green cover and air so fresh and pure, it's amazing. 

The market had just been set up when we visited. There were varieties of vegetables, dried fish, fruits and a few local delicacies. Since Ziro is not easily accessible, the influence of mainstream India is much lesser. Manufactured and processed goods were being sold mostly by traders from out of state e.g. packaged food, powdered spices, plastic items like buckets & bags, wool which is much in demand due to the colder climate etc. The shops were quaint and not very large but busy like all markets with people bustling in and out with their shopping.

Fresh vegetables & fruits at the market

Live fish for sale

Piles of dried fish 

A type of larvae found underground in river beds.
The season had just started in Arunachal Pradesh.

Barely had the lady set up shop, the large blocks
of larvae were snapped up by eager customers.
In a matter of minutes she had sold almost all. 

Interestingly, they had a few shops selling alcohol
which were barricaded like cages.

The next market we had a chance to visit was in Kohima, Nagaland. Here, the markets had a more urban feel to it. Besides the fresh vegetables and fruits, there was also a variety of exotic meat (from our point of view) which I couldn't bring myself to photograph. I am not usually squeamish but this was a sight I couldn't bear to hang around. 

A similar scene greeted us at the market in Kohima

The white discs were salt, which is prized here & the red fruit
in front of it, we were told, was a type of wild brinjal. 

The famous Naga chillies!

More larvae & worms, different types of worms!

Silk worms - the greenish ones were live & the ones
on the right were roasted.

The shops in the city were stocked with the latest fashion in shoes, clothes, tins and packets of imported food etc. They were also a little more touristy than anywhere we had been so far offering their famous shawls, miniature spears, all that Nagaland is famous for. 

The roads connecting the major towns in Nagaland had, in places, make-shift stalls lining the roads. The locals from the nearest villages would be selling the seasonal vegetables, fruits or meat in them. 

A stall along the roadside. The hanging baskets
contained freshwater crabs.

The lady with the plastic bag in hand had a string of live frogs
that she was packing up for a customer.

We bought a whole lot of the chillies - fresh and dried, gawked at the unusual stuff laid out on display, watched people haggle, browse, shop, have a little chat - interactions that were unhurried and friendly as if time was of no consequence to them. And it probably wasn't, at least not in the same way it is to us in our urbanised rush. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Colours of India - ever changing, ever constant Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Jodhpur, Rajasthan resplendent in blue.
Photo credit:

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the name India?

People... lots of people, saris, COLOURS, yoga & spiritualism, Indian hospitality, food... these are some of the oft repeated phrases. And the list goes on... 

As cliched as it might sound, India is a land of many, many colours. In fact, the brighter, the better. It's in our lives everywhere - the flowers in this sun-drenched land, the food, the cities, the festivals... Heck! we even have a festival of colours! 

holi, india, festival,
Holi celebrations - the festival of colours
Photo credit:

No wonder then, our love of all things colourful is reflected in our clothes, our jewellery and even in our homes. 

I decided to look around and see how colour inspires and dominates our life in India. Here's a glimpse of what I found. 

Flowers of many hues sold outside a temple complex, Bangalore

Paper lanterns make an appearance just before Diwali, Mumbai

Multi-coloured flags at a local festival, Goa 

A Gulmohar tree with its fiery blooms, Bangalore

The brightest yellow taxis, Kolkata :)

The vividly coloured clothes make a splash against a blue-grey backdrop

A night market selling the blingiest creations, Ahmedabad

Colourful bundles of thread & wool in a local market, Nagaland

Fresh produce you'll find in any local market

Purple Bougainvillea thriving in India's warm climate

So, how inspired are you to add more colour to your life? :)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

An update on the June 2014 contest

June 5th each year is observed as World Environment Day. Heck, some places even celebrate the entire month as 'Environment Month'.  

At A Full Moon, we source our products from local communities who handcraft gorgeous works of art & craft using natural materials and processes. Their skills provide them with a livelihood that offers them and their families a better quality of life. 

The June contest turned the spotlight on the environment especially on India's natural wonders. Answer 5 (eeeasy) questions (or so we thought) and the winner would get a hand-painted folk art (unframed) by a Santhal tribal artist. 

The contest ended on June 13th, the day/night of the full moon. Unexpectedly, not one of the entries got the right answer even with the descriptions (read hints) supplied along with the questions. We then had to take the unusual step of not declaring a winner

So so disappointed! 

June 2013 'Honey Moon' Photo credit: Stephen Rahn

On the fun side, though, I learnt that the full moon falling on Friday the 13th (which I don't consider unlucky, whatsoever) would next fall only on August 13, 2049

And the combination of a full moon on Friday the 13th in June only in 2098.

This year's full moon is also called a 'Strawberry Moon' or a 'Honey Moon' for different reasons - It's time for strawberry picking and the moon is the colour of honey respectively.

That's all the full moon trivia for now. :) While completely unrelated to the products we retail, it's just so much fun knowing stuff like this! Ask not why? 

Yes, a bit geeky, we know. But what to say, we are like this only! :)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

June 2014 - What's up at A Full Moon?

I didn't mean to post consecutively about the contest on A Full Moon. I didn't even realise that it's been a whole month since the previous contest. Time sure flies when you're having fun! :) 

I promise to post more of other things soon, but for now, here's info on the June contest. It started on June 5th - World Environment Day and is a short li'l quiz about the world we live in, especially the natural wonders we have right here in India. If you'd like to participate in our contest, check out the post on our Facebook page. Remember, the contest ends on June 11th (IST). 

Our products are sourced from local communities who handcraft gorgeous works of art & craft using natural materials and processes. It was only right that our contest for this month highlighted the beautiful world we live in (and generally take for granted).

At A Full Moon, we source our products directly from the artisans and from non-profits (NGOs) who work with local communities. Creating the gorgeous handcrafted products allow the artisans to earn a steady livelihood giving their families and themselves a better quality of life. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

No price tag attached to a li'l fun

It has been nearly a year since A Full Moon began and we've been itching to create something interesting for our customers and well-wishers to get involved in. 

Retail therapy is always fun, no doubt. But we just wanted to add a little more zing to it. :)

Starting May 2014, we'll host an activity each month centred around the time of the full moon (the celestial one!). Details of which will be posted on the Facebook page.  

The first contest just got over, for May 2014, where one of our favourite customers, Amrita S, won a beautifully hand embroidered coin purse for her mother from A Full Moon's collection of bags & purses.

We hope you will join in and enjoy being a part of the whole activity. Watch out for our next activity in early June.

If you have any comments for us, please do drop a line here or email us at We would be happy to hear from you.