DOCUMENTING THE SLOW EXTINCTION OF LAMBANI TEXTILE TRADITIONS

The tribal group known as the Lambanis have settled in South-West India and are known for their unique textile & jewelry adornments. Their traditional costumes are strong signatures and announcers of their tribal identity.

In the past century the culture of this tribe has faced evolutionary pressures that are so severe that the costume traditions are succumbing and are breathing their last.

The tribe has a large population of young people, yet the only people practicing their costume traditions are the grandparent generation.  Neither the costumes nor the unique skills required to create them are being transmitted to the next generation indicating an inevitable extinction of this cultural meme in the near future.

This study reconstructs the evolutionary history of the costume traditions within the whole-life paradigm of the tribe and documents the shifts in social & economic ideologies.  More importantly the study identifies the factors that have led to these ideological shifts that are leading to the extinction of this costume culture.

The study uses interviews with tribal village leaders, tribal men & women of various ages, non-government social work bodies and government officers in charge of tribal development. Other resources include local and government publications.

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It is hoped that deathbed nature of this study will emphasize the need to address the problem of extinction of cultures that is occurring irreversibly and silently.

It is hoped that this study will act as a starting point to devise mechanisms to protect other at-risk textile cultures from extinction and preserve the cultural diversity of the world that our children will inherit.

jm

June 2013




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