Exquisite handwoven products from Northeast India
VILLAGE WEAVERS / Traditional textiles for U.S. tastes
By Laura Thomas
Electrical engineer Monalisa Bora is on a mission
to record the traditional handweaving patterns of
all the world's village weavers before they
disappear.

She began her quest with the female weavers in
her home region of Assam in northeast India,
where cloth for family needs is woven on bamboo
looms with the exquisite patterns that represent
things they are familiar with. The feet of
chicken, the wink in a peacock's eye and a cross
section of a bitter gourd are shown in stylistic
form.

And Bora, who grew up in the main city of
Guwahati, quit her Silicon Valley job to start
Dreams on Looms, a fair-trade business importing
Assam textiles designed to suit American tastes.

"The ladies are so skilled," she said. "You just
show them the design and they can do it."

In the United States since 1993, Bora, who lives
in Sunnyvale, has worked with other Indian
Americans on various educational projects, but
she wanted to find something that would support
people over time.

Working with a community group in Assam, she
managed to organize Bodo tribal weavers in 50
villages to produce a uniform and consistent line
of curtains, placemats, napkins, throw pillows and
table runners that can be mixed and matched.
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Dreams on Looms offers more than 10 color and pattern choices for each item. Curtain panels
are 48 by 84 inches and cost $70 to $90. Throw pillow shams are $25, with a natural kapok
fill, $35. Napkins are $6 apiece; placemats, $12 (shown in different patterns at right); and
table runners, $54.

While the color selection was expanded and the dyes improved to satisfy American
expectations, the weaving patterns are original.

"It is our mission to preserve and document this tradition," Bora said.

"I am half engineer and half anthropologist."

Dreams on Looms textiles are available at Global Exchange stores in San Francisco and
Berkeley and online at www.dreamsonlooms.com.

Photos by Rohit Natarajan
Electrical engineer Monalisa Bora is on a mission
to record the traditional handweaving patterns of
all the world's village weavers before they
disappear.

She began her quest with the female weavers in
her home region of Assam in northeast India,
where cloth for family needs is woven on bamboo
looms with the exquisite patterns that represent
things they are familiar with. The feet of
chicken, the wink in a peacock's eye and a cross
section of a bitter gourd are shown in stylistic
form.

And Bora, who grew up in the main city of
Guwahati, quit her Silicon Valley job to start
Dreams on Looms, a fair-trade business importing
Assam textiles designed to suit American tastes.

"The ladies are so skilled," she said. "You just
show them the design and they can do it."

In the United States since 1993, Bora, who lives
in Sunnyvale, has worked with other Indian
Americans on various educational projects, but
she wanted to find something that would support
people over time.

Working with a community group in Assam, she
managed to organize Bodo tribal weavers in 50
villages to produce a uniform and consistent line
of curtains, placemats, napkins, throw pillows and
table runners that can be mixed and matched.
Electrical engineer Monalisa Bora is on a mission
to record the traditional handweaving patterns of
all the world's village weavers before they
disappear.

She began her quest with the female weavers in
her home region of Assam in northeast India,
where cloth for family needs is woven on bamboo
looms with the exquisite patterns that represent
things they are familiar with. The feet of
chicken, the wink in a peacock's eye and a cross
section of a bitter gourd are shown in stylistic
form.

And Bora, who grew up in the main city of
Guwahati, quit her Silicon Valley job to start
Dreams on Looms, a fair-trade business importing
Assam textiles designed to suit American tastes.

"The ladies are so skilled," she said. "You just
show them the design and they can do it."

In the United States since 1993, Bora, who lives
in Sunnyvale, has worked with other Indian
Americans on various educational projects, but
she wanted to find something that would support
people over time.

Working with a community group in Assam, she
managed to organize Bodo tribal weavers in 50
villages to produce a uniform and consistent line
of curtains, placemats, napkins, throw pillows and
table runners that can be mixed and matched.