A touch of tradition

A touch of tradition

A touch of tradition

Limasenla Jamir
Mokokchung | March 17

Suwazungla is a self-taught and self-trained traditional jewelry designer. She has been designing and making jewelry for more than thirty years now. At 68, she still crafts and sells traditional jewelry and also crafts dry flowers from scrap and recycled materials. 

“My love and interest for jewelry designing began when I was a young girl. I was always interested in modifying things,” she said. Though she has been in the business for so many years, she does not sell her products in shops or online. Her business has always been home based. Being unemployed and with five children to take care of, jewelry making was something that helped her earn and add to her family’s income. 

Suwazungla has also traveled across the country exhibiting her products in many expo and fairs.

“In 1987 when I was to participate at an international trade fair at New Delhi, I designed the first ever waist coat made out of Ao traditional men’s shawl. It was not very popular when I first designed, but now everyone is inclined towards wearing the waistcoat and I feel happy that my creation has now become very popular though many may not know that I first created the design for the waist coat”, she recalled.

Suwazungla also created and designed a particular type of hair accessory that Ao women put around their hair buns. “When I first created the hair pin some fifteen years ago, the first thirty pieces were sold in Kohima after which the demand only increased and now we can see that the hair accessory has now become a part of the traditional wear,” she said.

She also talked about how she first came up with the idea of making mufflers out of traditional Ao shawls way back in 2002. “Sometimes it becomes inconvenient to wear big traditional shawls on top of suits and formal wears. That is when I realized that we can actually make the shawls in smaller design,” she said. Traditional men and women shawls are now woven in smaller sizes and are worn by everyone.

“It was not easy to design and create using traditional shawls and items. At one time there was an order not to use scissors on our traditional shawls and wrap-around/mekhala. But we have come a long way and these days we see that many women are into the business of traditional jewelry making and also weaving and designing”, she added. 
Suwazungla received her first award on January 26, 2020, during the republic day celebration in Mokokchung town. She received the Achievers Award in the field of Culture awarded by District Administration & DLCW – MSK under Beti Bachao Beti Phadhao. 

“Creativity is not about doing something better than others, it is about thinking, experimenting and imagining new ideas. Young unemployed women, married women and even retired women, we are all capable of doing something or the other and we are all creative in our own way. We should not let our talents go into waste, rather we should be enterprising,” she said.