imchatsung imchen | fan mail
Imchatsung Imchen is a visionary artist/entrepreneur who seeks inspiration in music, fashion and design to express his distinctive art of storytelling.
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Fan Mail: The Tetseo Sisters

It was late night, when mother thought she should embroider the Chi Pi Khwü shawl the next day. Father had already taught the son how to craft the stringed instrumentShe understood that her four daughters were now old enough to learn how to hand embroider. All she needed to do was to stitch the three parts of the shawl before sunrise. 

She gently tapped the shoulder of her eldest daughter, who was already asleep and whispered to her ears saying “Hiyohey”. It was a reminder that the two could wake up early before the rest of the family, and after the early morning chores, they’d unwind the last spools of yarn for the hand work. She knew it was time to teach her daughters the tunes they’d always wanted to learn. Her children would see the colour of a new dawn.


It was around 4 o’ clock in the afternoon. “Beautiful” she said, as I pointed her to where the Tetseo Sisters were seated. It was easy to spot them seated behind the first row, the spirited colours of  Chi Pi Khwü , the porcupine accessories and the three pairs of eyes transfixed to the show. I was backstage supporting my friend Aneeth Arora for the second time at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in New Delhi, and she gladly accepted my request to invite the Tetseo Sisters. It was more than apparent that these folk artists witness the striking work of Arora, who’d soon be crowned “Boho Gypsy Queen” the next day at the official FDCI ‘Designer Mode Magazine’ review. We knew we were both gawking at them. 


Beautiful they are. But what bemused me was their sense of panache: Their natural effort in creating magic out of the weaves and accessories from Nagaland. I was completely left off-guard by the way they presented themselves; a genuine approach, with pride in their signature style in a sea of strange mob where one could easily get lost in translation. And it was no surprising when designer legends including Ritu Kumar and Manivoraj Khosla took time to speak to the girls and compliment their distinguishable looks. Arora could easily identify the Chi Pi Khwü shawl worn by one of the sisters. 

Tetseo Sisters performing an encore of O Rhosi.

A week before the Delhi event, I had received an autographed CD from the Tetseo Sisters. A true collector’s item and a groundbreaking attempt. Every page in the inlay was poetry in motion. It was only after interacting with them that we realized how serious and passionate the Sisters were about the legends of Li, and why they wanted to carry forward the knowledge learnt from their elders. The sisters garnered some fans (including myself) in the péro stall as they honoured us by singing O Rhosi from their debut album aptly titled Chapter One: The Beginning

Overlooking Kohima
In the purest form of storytelling, they sing in Chakhesang (Chokri) dialect about life and its stringed emotions. The album containing twelves tracks are sung in a language I don’t understand myself.  

To sum up, track 4 Hiyo! Hiyo! is a symbolic representation of these talented Sisters like the Chi Pi Khwü shawl, each track intricately interwoven to usher a new chapter in their lives, as well as paving the way for the younger generations. Someone at the péro stall tapped me on my shoulder and whispered to my ears saying “They are not only doing Nagaland proud, but they are one of the best to have emerged from India.”

“Oh! Many are the lamentations of a woman.
But we do best to smile and bear it.
And we gather together and make light of our pains.
In songs, we weave a happy present.
And into your shawls we discreetly draw,
Our untold stories, our dreams and yearnings.
Happy patterns, bold ones, colourful ones.
Resigned, we soar and live in you. This, our destiny.” 
Track 7. Phrozü Li
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