Origin: A folk tribe tale states that once upon a time, there was a magician named Changkichanglangba who spent his life entertaining people with his tricks. Before he died, he told villagers to open his grave after six days of his burial. Following his instructions the villagers opened his grave and unearthed basketry designs and motifs. Smitten by the new designs, artisans started imitating those styles and basket making techniques.
The Nagaland forests are rich in bamboo and cane. Bamboo products hold a significant place in the lives of Nagas. It is believed that Naga tribes begin their lives in a cradle of bamboo and end their lives in a coffin of bamboo.
Traditionally, the basket craft was an age -old craft of leisure practised by the male elders. Family members indulged in this craft only to craft essential household items such as baskets, bamboo tubes, furniture, containers, spoons etc. Bamboo and cane crafts was limited to men. The Angami of Khonoma village in Kohima district craft Khophi, a carrying basket of cane that is presented by a man to his fiancée as a symbol of his commitment to her.
Present Day: Every household of Nagaland is punctuated by this craft. It has penetrated into the architecture of the city such as in bridges and fencing bamboo and cane are the primary ingredients. This humble handicraft have won international accolades.
Since ancient times, the Angami tribe wears the crown of being the best in basket weaving. These baskets are available in varied designs, shapes and sizes. Even today, the constant companion of Naga womenfolk is a khopi basket.
The Khonoma village is famed for its intricate weaves and designs. The baskets of Khiamngan weavers in the Tuensang district are loved for their finesse and delicate work.
Procedure: The most common bamboo species used for basketry are Dendrocalamus Hamiltonii and Melocanna Baccifera. Embracing tradition, bamboo is cut only on new moon nights. The dry month of October begins the cutting of bamboo and it continues till April.
Some traditional bamboo-cane crafts might hold a mixture of other materials along with solid bamboo designed with woven bamboo and cane to create utility products. Other products might have a high grade of refinement employing multiple weaves.
The Konyak, in the northern Mon district, craft a raincoat shield, phu, using dried palm leaves interspersed between woven canes. The Chang tribe of Tuensang district churn out sophisticated boxes, cases, plates, scoops, containers and rice dishes from heat-flattened green intermodal bamboo. This is done by a traditional technique of stitching folded ends of the container using cane rope. This particular technique uses seven-month old talon bamboo.
The Yimchunger and Phom tribes are popular for their bamboo beer mugs. These mugs have lines of woven cane binding in parts by using bamboo neck to craft a beautiful cup by a secret technique. The villagers do not like to share the secret behind this technique.
Bring Home Cane and Bamboo Craft of Nagaland: Buy this environment friendly product from Nagaland emporium and encourage this traditional art.