Mizoram: Zo Weave, Weaving Puans, Employing, And Empowering Women

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  • Ezrela Daldia Fanai

When we think about Mizoram the beautiful dresses adorned by its people float into our imagination. Handloom and weaving is an integral part of Mizo custom since time immemorial. Weaving is not only an art but is means of economic independence and empowerment for women.

One of the most important parts of this handloom weaving is the Puan- a traditional wrap-around cloth worn by all Mizo women.

Five varieties of Puan- Puanchei, Tawllohpuan, Ngotekherh, Hmar Am, and Pawndum are GI tagged now protecting them from infringement.

Over time many of them have received grants from the govt and other agencies to scale up their businesses. Among these is a lady who has started her unique business called Zo Weave. The owner, a mother of four,  Malsawmtluangi spoke with Ezrela Daldia Fanai of Northeast Today

The uniqueness of this Zo Weave is that it hires 62 weavers from all parts of Mizoram. She not only weaves ‘Puans’ but also produces special designs of ‘Nau Puakpuan or Baby sling’.

Here is a special interview with the owner of ‘Zo Weave’ Malsawmtluangi

NET: What gave you the idea to start Zo Weave?

Malsawmtluangi: Mizo traditional Puan has always been a big passion in my family. I used to visit weavers to customize Puan for special occasions like weddings and Christmas celebrations.

During one of my visits, the weavers told me that they are willing to work full time with me. This gave me an idea to start a mutually beneficial business setup where my ideas and passion for Puan designs can be brought to life while helping housewives and stay-at-home mothers to earn a livelihood from the comfort of their homes. That was how Zo Weave was started.

NET: How do you bring together the weavers from different parts of the state?

Malsawmtluangi: I directly contacted some of the weavers while I got to know others through mutual friends. Mizos are a small community and we bond easily. I speak with the weavers, check up on them and let them know that we can lend a helping hand should they face any hardships.

We mainly use mobile phones to communicate but sometimes we also communicate through letters. Even though we cannot meet face to face, we are bonded by our mutual love and passion for Mizo Puan.

NET:   Do you concentrate on the different ethnic weaves of the various tribes? How?

Malsawmtluangi: The weavers are from various tribes under the Zo umbrella, and this helps in producing Puans that highlight the diversity and rich ethnicities of the various communities.

NET:   Do you plan to go national/international? Will you take up global marketing?

Malsawmtluangi: I believe that we should always emphasize quality rather than quantity. My vision is to engage more weavers and create more platforms from where we can support each other.

We also hope to attract more international customers who have an interest in the beauty and tradition of Mizo handlooms and handiworks.

We also have an account on Instagram called “Zo Weave”. Here, many of our products are on display and orders can also be made through the account.