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Art of Manipur

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Item Code: UAS487
Publisher: Agam Kala Prakashan, Delhi
Author: Nilima Roy
Language: English
Edition: 1979
Pages: 78 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 630 gm
Book Description

Weavers of Manipur appears to be magicians and produce what seemed like dreams. They have grasped the sensitivity to colour and by mere experience and training of their eyes, their expert hands apply range of suitable colours to produce magnificient colourful cloth. To Manipuri weavers colour is associated with seasons and festivals. The range of traditional designs among the Manipuri hand-woven textile have been known and admired for long time. The richness and delicacy of the textile patterns of Manipur have been highly commended and are a class by themselves. The designs and embroideries produced by them are delicate and extremely fine. Here one encounters with more intricate design, rich shades, but more orderly and regulated. While the local environment had a tremendous impact, the patronage of kings and religious heritage has always been a source of inspiration. Besides environmental influences, the Manipuri weavers evolved individual designs for their local costumes which has a range of multifarious colour combinations and attractive designs.

The present book is an excellent treatise on the technology of Manipuri handloom weaving with proper and adequate understanding of cultural ethos of Manipur as reflected in the weaving designs and patterns.

About The Author

Shy in nature but pioneer in her subject Smt. Nilima Roy, the author of this book, is one of the very few ladies who received her M.Sc. degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Calcutta as early as 1945. She was attached to the Ethnological Museums in 1946 and worked as Curator of the Ethnography Section of the Indian Museum and then as the first Curator in the Central Museum of NEFA (Arunachal). At present she is the Keeper of the Department of Anthropology in the National Museum. Keen interest in the subject gives her an impetus to travel extensively in different parts of India. She has not only enriched collections of enormous varieties of objects in different Museums; where she worked from time to time; but also prepared the complete documentations of each and every object. During her tour abroad in connection with the Cultural Exchange Mission, she visited almost all the Ethnological Museums in Czeckoslovakia, West Germany (Munich and W. Berlin) and Rome, and delivered lectures on Indian Ethnography, Tribal and Folk Arts and Crafts of India. She has published a number of articles in different journals of India and abroad. Her publications comprise primarily of different aspects of Tribal life, there arts and crafts.


In the days gone by, in Manipur, parents looking out for daughter-in-law made sure that she knew weaving and embroidery. These were the much prized attainments in a girl. In our well-known epic of Khamba and Thoibi, the princess Thoibi in her exile in Kabaw competed with the princess of that place in weaving. In the fineness of weave and the matching of colours Thoibi easily beat her rival. It was not only in the valley that weaving was considered as the prized attainments in the fair sex: the many tribes that inhabit the surrounding held the same view. Cotton was grown plentifully in these hills, which was cleared and spun into threads and fabrics woven by loin weaving technique. The Marwari traders that followed the British introduced mill yarn to the valley weavers. They took to the mill yarn, while in the hills the old system remained.

Each tribe has their own design and colour combination. The colour pattern will indicate the tribe of the weaver. In the valley the Meiteis have their designs and each Salai'-T.C. Hodson used and popularised the word 'clan' as its equivalent; quite a number of scholars feel that the word "Lineage" is a better equivalent. Coming in contact with the various tribes the Meiteis have enriched their patterns, colour schemes of the tribal weaving. While in the hills even today much of the weaving is done by loin weaving technique, the valley weavers use the throw and fly shuttle looms.

Until chemical dyes was introduced into Manipur, the weavers used leaves, flowers, seeds, barks and roots of plants and trees besides earth. To get dark blue or black after dipping in a dye made from bark, the yarn was buried in mud to absorb iron. For beige and various shades of brown they grew a type of cotton which produced brown cotton.


Many books have been published on Textile and also a few on Weaving. This particular one is the first in the series of weaving techniques and traditional textile designs of the North Eastern Frontiers of India. My interest in the process of Weaving designs of this area was stimulated during my Curatorial duties both in the Central Museum, Arunachal Pradesh, under Late Dr. Verrier Elwin and in the Ethnography Department of the Indian Museum at Calcutta, I got fascinated by the traditional textile techniques and indigenous motifs of this area and during my different visits to Manipur I got charmed not only with the weaving and indigenous motifs and colours of Manipur textile but also by the people.

In order to appreciate the beauty of the weaving and striking illustrations of motifs of the people of Manipur I started preliminary study of their total culture which revealed many things and threw light on the artistic life of the people of Manipur and their customs, religions, faith and their social history. In fact while studying of the traditional arts, I got the chance to know the inner life of the people of Manipur, the working of their aspirations and beliefs. To the people the weaving and use of different motifs does not only satisfy their domestic needs but have deep root into their mythology and religion.

It is the purpose of this book to place before the lovers of weaving art whatever little is left to write. This book is by no means an exhaustive one. This is just the beginning and I have tried to illustrate and document only a fringe from the tremendous amount of treasure available in this area.

I leave to the reader to judge the merit of this book, what I insist is that immediate documentation is necessary for such type of dying art all over our country. There is still facinating possibilities of investing and documenting these huge wealth of art vanishing rapidly. The study involve a vast amount of time and patience.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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