Craffi presents to you the top 4 nature friendly handicraft items from the land of North East. Read on..
1. Kouna Craft:
The word Kouna is derived from the word “Kou”. Manipuri name Kou spells craft items. In Meitei culture, Kouna is closely associated with deity “Phakamgba”. Some members of this culture have a strong belief that Kouna is a reincarnation of their deity “Phakamgba”. Thus, the people of Manipur have a deep sense of emotional and religious connection with Kouna
One of the most ancient traditions of the Manipuri society is Kouna craft. Natures gifts to Manipur, Kouna is a spongy water reed like bamboo. Every house of Manipur has a minimum of two Kouna handicrafts items. Culturally, it been employed in the process of mat making. Kouna plants are eco-friendly, non-pollutant and bio degradable.
Khangadok cluster primarily dominates the Kouna handicraft. Khangabok is home to skilled artisans who are trained to weave around moulds. In the region of Langmeithet, everyone weaves mats and some of them have also taking training in weaving 3D products. However, in Shikong and Kuarok Maring village very few people weave mats for sale.
Kouna handicraft is evolving, today many new crafts items such as baskets in different shapes and sizes, cushions and mattresses, boxes, trays, ladies purse are crafted out of Kouna. People have started comprehending de facto that once it is planted it lasts approximately 20 to 25 years and is harvested three to four times a year. This harvesting knowledge has resulted in a growth of people harvesting Kouna to their low -lying fields in Thoubal.
2. Reed Mats:
The Reed plant is indigenous to Manipur. For centuries, in Meitei culture reed or Kouna is connected to deity Phakamgba. Legend has it that it is the reincarnation of deity Phakamgba. Therefore, the inhabitants of Manipur hold a deep spiritual and emotional connection with Kouna.
Originally belonging to Thoubal district, Kouna is strong and elastic. The humble artisans have been dipping their hands in this paddy straw tinted grass. Historically, kauna mat is famous for curing backache once the patient lies on it. It is also used a herb to cure fever
India embraces a strong ancient craft heritage that speaks of resource optimisation, waste management and sustainable material usage. This grass craft symbolizes the same.
The cultivation of Kouna has reached new heights. Today reed mat have a huge demand in India as well as in international market. U.K, U.S, Germany, France, Switzerland, UAE are customers of this mat. The main reason being, apart from its aesthetic appeal this craft is also eco-friendly, non-pollutant and biodegradable.
3. Cane and Bamboo Craft
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.
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.
4. Black Pottery :
The tradition of Black Pottery is believed to have originated from two Longpi villages in Manipur, namely Longpi Khullen and Longpi Kajui. Tangkhul community resides in the hill district of Manipur and practised this craft.
The origin of this soulful craft is attributed to Goddess Panthobi. Legend has it Goddess Panthobi is the mother of artifact-making. Thus, Longpi Pottery holds significance in rituals during childbirth and marriage. Initially, only the royalty and the rich of Manipur had access to this pottery.
The tradition of black pottery is very much alive in soul of Longpi. Even today, each family in Longpi masters the art of making this beautiful pottery. Whilst all the houses of this village are buzzing with the making of black pottery, not all sell it. Some indulge in this craft only to satisfy their soul.
A couple of years back around 17 women of this village joined hands to form “Loree Hamlei”. These talented women have sold black pottery through craft stores across India and even abroad. Since there is no chemical used, pregnant women across globe are using it to avoid morning sickness.
Today, in addition to the characteristic cooking pots, stout kettles, quaint bowls, mugs and nut trays etc. new design elements are also being introduced such as table lamps, candlestick holders etc.