Arunachal Pradesh has 16 major tribes of whom the Adi group is the largest in number, followed by Nishi, Wancho, Monpa, Nocte, Tagin, Apa Tani, and Hill Miri . Every tribe has its own customs and traditions and each uses cane and bamboo to fulfil its everyday needs. The weave and the designs of the articles fashioned from cane and bamboo are distinctive in each region but what is common across the entire northeast is that cane and bamboo is strictly a man’s craft. The high level of workmanship has transformed these everyday utility items into works of beauty.
The Adis are known to use cane and bamboo to build houses and suspension bridges. The bridges are sometimes over 200 metres in length, spanning a river from bank to bank. Bamboo is used for the walls and floors of houses. However, more commonly, cane and bamboo are used by all the tribes for fashioning articles of daily need, such as baskets for storage and for carrying produce, vessels for water or liquor, and articles for personal use such as belts, hats, rain shields, daos (flat-bladed multipurpose knives) sheaths, smoking pipes, knee bands, and bows and arrows. Ornaments and necklaces made of fine strips of cane and grass are also popular and burnt poker work can be found on bamboo articles.
Cane, the raw material for basketry is flexible and pliant and can be used in a variety of ways. There are two basic techniques used for basketry: the coiled technique and the plaited or woven technique. Cane is sliced into extremely fine uniform strips and dextrously woven to form a large array of shapes and forms. Cane baskets come in a variety of shapes and sizes . Each tribe has its own type of basket and each basket has a specific name. For instance, open-weave baskets, called barsi, are used by the Adi women for marketing and are carried using a head strap made from cane splits. Closed- weave baskets are tightly structured and are used for storing grain as well as for marketing. Other articles such as pathu and rothak, long rectangular pouches similar to haversacks, are woven by the men and used for carrying articles and for storage. The men of the Wancho tribe wear a belt around their waists when they go out. These belts are a rich glowing black colour. A bright red vegetable dyed belt, ahu, is traditionally worn by the Apa Tani men. It is made of several split cane elements that go around the waist and hang down at the back.