Kapdaganda- a token of love

Embroidered with colourful motifs and designs on both sides, Kapdaganda is a prestigious shawl of Dongria Kondh tribe, a primitive sub section of Kondh tribe who inhabit the forest land along the slopes of the great Niyamgiri hill ranges of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts of Odisha. They also identify themselves as Jharnia because they live in close conjunction with a perennial hill stream. Woven with excellent craftsmanship, this shawl is specifically prepared by the spinsters of Dhangidibasa (female dormitory) during leisure hours. It is used by Dongria Kondhs of all ages irrespective of gender. Kapdaganda is gifted by the Dongria girls to their beloved ones as a token of love. It is also presented by them to their brother and father as a symbol of affection to strengthen consanguinal relations. Aesthetically added designs and motifs in the shawl unfold social beliefs and religious practices. 

Socio-cultural significance

In general Kapdaganda is gifted as a token of love to the beloved ones which also includes family members. Kapdaganda plays vital role in mate selection. Kedu/Meriah festival of Dongria provides an opportunity to the youths for mate selection. Throwing of the shawl by the boy over a girl shows his willingness to marry the girl. In return the girl shows her consent by accepting or rejecting the shawl. Colours used in the shawl carry significance.

Dongria believe that red, gree and yellow are the most auspicious colours. Red signifies blood, sacrifices and revenge while green symbolizes their fertile mountain ecology. Yellow symbolizes the origin of the Kondh. It also represents prosperity and profuse turmeric cultivation. Other colours are expressive of their ingenious craftsmanship and aesthetic sense.

Traditional designs and motifs

The off-white coarse cloth used as raw material for Kapdaganda is procured from the Domb, a local schedule caste community by bartering harvested crops. The designs are embroidered on the cloth by a needle using threads.

A Dongria maiden doing embroidery

 “Watta –The three straight lines running at the bottom of the weave-designs represents the imaginary boundary wall of their habitation. It symbolizes social security and also marks as a symbol of protection from the evil forces.
Karlikanna the axe shape design symbolizes the blade of an axe which indicates the aggressiveness, revenge, energy, power, territorial fights and proves that they are the real protectors of their “Dongar” (mountain).

“Keriwatta”- The design is derived from tamarind leaf. Being forest dwellers, everything learned by them from the forest is culturally expressed in this design.

“Kuddilinga”- the triangular design symbolizes the abode of their household deity worshiped by them in all important rituals and ceremonial occasions.

These traditional designs are also manifested in other material culture like- bangle (Paja), religious observation-Kudilinga, Jhaker penu and Dharani penu. 

 A close view of embroidery work

Techniques used
The white thread is procured the local Domb community. The threads are dyed according to the colour requirement. They use turmeric, bean leaves and wild seeds to colour yellow, green and red respectively. To prevent the colour fading they boil the banana flower in water and dip the coloured threads in it. To check the result they hold and press the thread in the arm and dry it on a bamboo pole. This technique is now almost extinct and is replaced by the ready-made colour threads. 



Well done and you and your colleague deserve a great appraisal.

Sarabjeet Singh said...

Shakmacha Sir thanks for your appraisal,we would require your valuable suggestions and guidance.

Anonymous said...

Very good. Congratulations. Good initiative. You can initiate some debate through your blog. Donot you think that most of the things that are exhibited in a museum are different from our culture. Museum teaches us its uses, how it is unique and different from our contemporary material culture etc etc. Don't you think that museum should also play a major role in teaching the ancient and traditional techniques to our contemporary people. Beginning with any museum staff of any museum in our country; do you think that how many of them have learnt various traditional techniques from various communities. I mean to say the real hands on and also can prepare or manufacture. Not simply the bookish knowledge. Think over it.

Banita Behera said...

thank you very much sir for your appreciation.Hope in future we all success to reach to each and every communities those are still untouched by the others.

Banita Behera said...

thank you very much sir for your appreciation.Hope in future we all success to reach to each and every communities those are still untouched by the others.