Tangaliya is a handwoven, GI protected textile ,made by the Dangasia community, a scheduled caste in Gujarat, India. The 700-year-old indigenous craft is native to the Surendranagar district in the Saurashtra region of the state.
The textile was usually used as a shawl or wraparound skirt by women of the Bharwad shepherd community of the Wankaner, Amreli, Dehgam, Surendranagar, Joravarnagar, Botad, Bhavnagar and Kutch areas.
Woven on pit looms at homes, the technique involves weaving knots in colors contrasting to the warp color to create the effect of raised dots. The weaving is based on precise mathematical calculations. The weaver has to count the warp yarns each time, before hand-knotting the dot in acrylic yarn, to produce geometric patterns. A single mistake can lead to the final design looking faulty. The effect of the pattern also has a tactile feel, similar to braille, because of the raised surface of the dots. This has become the signature style of the textile.
Another important aspect is the visual effect of dots, which is most striking and appealing on dark colour bases, especially black. The graphic quality of white dots mixed with other bright coloured dots gives the craft its special appeal. Moreover, due to the ease of knotting the white colour yarn compared to coloured yarns, white dots were common. Traditionally, most woolen shawls featured graphic patterns of white and maroon color dots on a black base.
The beauty of the textile also lies in its longer wearability. With every wash, the cotton textile tends to become more dense and integrates the dots even more finely between the warp and weft. With customers preferring less coarse textures, the traditional craft using unprocessed camel or sheep wool is no longer practised, but we cannot forget the inherent beauty that Tangaliya weave gets from that very texture. A small yet niche market for the original form of the craft still exists and tapping this segment could, potentially, revive this dying art.
Today, there are only fifteen families in Surendranagar pursuing this craft. The current support for these weavers majorly comes from their international clients in Japan and Europe, a few domestic clients who are aware of it and connoisseurs of the textile. Apart from small interventions by the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and National Institute of Design (NID), to acquaint textile students to the Tangaliya textile, not much interest has been taken in this craft.