Cane & Bamboo Craft of Manipur

Origin:  Manipur echoes with the praises of cane and bamboo sang by Pena singers and other bards. Cane and Bamboo continue to be an integral part of Manipur. Yet, Meitei script holds no mention of these two. On the flip side, ancient manuscripts such as the Panthoibi Khonggul, the Poireiton Khunthokpa, the Thanga Chinggoirol, and the Yumsharol talk about the way villagers used cane and bamboo.  These scripts highlight it was used to craft baskets and traps. 

The Ningthourol Lambuba, a manuscript on different Meitei Kings, articulates the use of Pai (a carrying basket) by the Meiteis. Traditionally, Pai was hung on the shoulder to carry things. The manuscript further states that in around 17th century Meiteis replaced Pai with bags made of cloth. 

In ancient time, Manipur valley was dotted with bamboo products. Houses, cooking-huts, out-houses and granaries were all constructed using bamboo and thatch. The reason being both items were available in abundance. 

Present Day: Cane and bamboo craft continues to dominate the Manipur craft map. In the bygone era, natural fibres were used to make daily products. Nowadays, tribes have evolved towards making sellable materials that hold aesthetic yet functional use. The second larger producer of bamboo products, Manipur produces varied bamboo craft products such as sofa sets, murhas, mats, basketry, tray, chair, table, flower vase, ashtray and other decorative and utility articles. 

There is a craft contrast in the products made by artisans living in plains and those residing in hills. Most products of the plains are of commercial value such as baskets. In contrast, artisans living in hills make furniture, houses and its implements etc. Tribals living in hills such as Andro and Phayeng still use ancient terms like Pai.  

Procedure: The first step is to chop bamboo poles into small pieces either horizontally and/or vertically. The chopped pieces are then cut vertically into two. Once again, the split halves are split vertically into two forming wachets. Post this, gluey layer on the inner surface is cleaned off. Then, the hard outer layer is scrapped off with Thangjou (Machete). The nodes protruding parts are also removed. 

Now, the wachet is divided vertically into two. The split halves of the wachet are again split vertically into two. Each of the four bamboo splits thus formed are referred to as Hanggel Tao. The split halves are once again split into two to form Payashis. Now, all four Payashis is finely knifed uniformly. Post this, the craft is called Paya.

Bring Home Cane and Bamboo Craft of Manipur: This traditional craft can be bought from Manipur Emporium. 

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