The Chi Pi Khwü/Shawl is the most distinctive shawl of the Chakhesang Nagas, both in appearance and in symbolism. The ultimate symbol of honor and privilege, this shawl was not to be worn by just anybody in the olden days and is still revered as a symbol of distinguished achievement.
Chakhesang men singing with Tati at a feast.
(Photography by Chizokho Vero)
The privilege of wearing this shawl had to be earned and most people earned the honor of wearing it after they were past middle age. So if you were in a Chakhesang Village and find yourself surrounded by men or women wearing this shawl, you can be sure you are in the company of distinguished gentlemen and ladies.
Men's Chipi
(Photography by Rokovor Vihienuo)
To qualify to wear this shawl, a person had to be invited to "Zho thi" which means the right to accumulate rice, rice beer and meat to feed the entire village. Our forefathers practiced the tradition of community feasting at the beginning and end of every agricultural cycle, they would identify and invite the wealthiest of the Community to provide for the feast. This would be followed by the raising of a stone monolith in the main pathway of the Village. The designated group of people of the Village will scout a monumental stone, do the necessary cleansing rituals and the entire Village folk will march in their finery to the spot of the stone and the menfolk drags the great stones to the Village with great jubilation, song and merrymaking followed by a community feast called "Thü muza". This activity would earn him and his spouse the privilege of wearing the Chi pi and the respect that came with it. Once a person is able to fulfill such an act, he can repeat it or the Village folk will designate the next feast father. This way the wealth of the rich was shared with the entire Village and in turn they received the respect and assistance of all able hands of the Village when the next agricultural cycle sets in.
Women's Shawl
The shawl is woven in three parts and sewn together, and then the intricate and colorful embroidery added. Legend has it that four to five females would work together on the embroidery and it would bring ill luck to the wearer and weavers if the series of patterns were not finished in one go.  Hence embroidery would commence at dawn and every effort made to complete the whole panel before dusk.Each pair of pattern was added each time he and his wife provides for the annual community feast.
Weavers would work in close tandem, taking minimum breaks to finish the shawl inorder to have it ready to present it to the Feast father right after the feasting ended.

Motifs of Orchids, Elephants, Tigers, Roosters, Ivory armlets of men, Cowrie Shell earpiece/pendant of women and patterns carved on village gates are embroidered on to the shawl, each motif in pairs. The shawl is symmetrical and the motifs all paired, each thoughtfully placed where it is bearing a deep meaning and the colors too call for solemn study. The colors used are bright orange, yellow, white, green and black. Orange symbolises vitality and good health, yellow for prosperity and plenty, white for purity and bravery, green for life and nature's gifts while black symbolises the sacred and strength of the soul.
Chakhesang grand couple in Chi pi Khwü.

Every bead and every thread we adorn ourselves with and all that our ancestors wore has a symbolism and a story behind them. It would be such a tragedy if we were to forget the significance of what makes us what we are. Our culture and traditions identify us. We have to each delve deeper into our roots and find our true selves. We have much to be proud of in terms of what our forefathers were and if we could imbibe more of the simplistic but honest way of life they led, we would be a much happier lot.

A lot of our traditions have evolved too and have accompanied us into the new millenium. For every race to survive, the members have to continually adapt to changing times by taking the good and useful while discarding the harmful and bad. What was once taboo is now sometimes rendered obsolete and some things which were of no significance seem to have gained much importance too. We continue to revere some of the symbols which have continue to mean much and in the same way, the Chi pi remains a revered part of our heritage. One is encouraged to do good and great things in different ways though according to the context of our times to be able to proudly wear it. If less people aspire to earn the right to wear the shawl with the correct implications, the Chi pi might get consigned to a sad place in a dusty corner of a forgotten museum and the significance of the shawl all quite forgotten. So here is a challenge to live a life worthy of the Chi pi! Hiyohey!

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