The hallmark of a timeless and self-sustaining Naga lifestyle, the Thebvora literally translates to 'nettle shawl' in the language of the Chakhesang Khuzhami tribe. Thebvo means 'stinging nettle' and Ra means 'shawl'. This classic Thebvora is made of hand-picked, hand spun and hand woven stinging nettle. This utilitarian nettle body cloth is warm and waterproof. Formerly used as blankets, today old shawls are worn as a durable carry-all in the rice fields.
This product is true to the original shawl, but adapted to a contemporary throw size. The minimal black stripe, a key design element unique to the Leshemi identity, is retained. The product is strip woven and skillfully joined at the seams.
Today, stinging nettle is woven only by indigenous women of the Chakhesang tribe in remote Naga villages in the mountains of Northeast India, on backstrap looms. The spinning and weaving of stinging nettle is increasingly rare. Stinging nettle is foraged from the wild once a year in early winter, making the fiber-to-fabric journey entirely local and self-sustaining (although the cotton yarn, once local, is now sourced).In a long and laborious process, strips of nettle bast fibre (stripped off the stalks), are retted, dried, thigh-reeled into twine, and hand-spun using a drop spindle. The yarn is then soaked in a coarse local rice broth, which naturally bleaches and softens the fiber. It is repeatedly soaked and sun-dried until the desired tone is attained. It is then woven on backstrap looms. The flexibility of the portable loom enables women to work from their own home. The natural black dye for the centre stripe is a local recipe: cotton yarn is mordanted in tannin-rich bark (locally sourced from the wild hazelnut, walnut and oak trees) and soaked in dark iron-rich paddy field clay. The yarn is then warped and prepared for the backstrap loom alternating cotton yarn in the warp and weft.
After scouring the nettle yarn with coarse rice, a rice cake is baked from the waste crumbs. While this is a treat for young girls, it is considered a taboo for young boys to eat this rice cake.
This product is contemporary, and is exclusively designed and woven by Leshemi Origins for ARTISANS' Gallery, to sustain the local tradition of nettle weaving.
Bleaching nettle in rice broth
Natural dyeing of cotton yarn in black
Locally foraged and hand-spun stinging nettle (urtica dioica), unbleached and naturally dyed cotton
45in X 70in 114cm X 178cm
Please note that the natural colors of nettle textiles are unique and may vary a bit from item to item. Wash nettle fabrics by hand in cold water, using ecological laundry products. Nettle softens with washing.
All our products are meticulously handmade by master artisans one piece at a time. Due to this process, there may be a variation from one item to the next. Such variations are inherent in the manufacturing of handmade products, so you may expect minor distinctions that will make your purchase special and truly one of a kind.
Product Dispatch & Shipping Notice
Please note that this item is handmade to order. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. Dispatched within 60 days of receiving your order. No refunds or returns.