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Indian Embroidery- Manipuri

Updated on December 14, 2008
a loin loom
a loin loom
Hijai mayek border
Hijai mayek border
cockerel motif
cockerel motif
elephant motif
elephant motif
butterfly motif
butterfly motif
romanian stitch or couched satin stitch
romanian stitch or couched satin stitch
akyobi design
akyobi design


India is known for its diverse cultures that exist in harmony. Each culture and region has its own unique form of art and embroidery. The embroidery of each place has its roots in the culture of the region.

Embroidery of Manipur:

Manipur has a unique embroidery of its own. Manipur is a state in northern India, it is a beautiful place surrounded by hills. Valleys and lakes. It abounds in people who enjoy music and dance. The people of Manipur are skilled in many arts and crafts. The women shoulder the main burden of society.

The women of Manipur also do fine and delicate embroidery. The embroidery is usually done on the border of the phaneyk which is worn by women like a sarong. The phaneyk is a woven piece of fabric in dark stripes against a light background. It is woven by the women themselves. It is common to find a loin or pit loom in almost every household in Manipur.

The colors most commonly used in embroidery are white, black, red, green and yellow. The motifs used are butterfly, elephant, cockerel etc, but more commonly used is the “Akyobi” design which is worked in two shades of red with a bit of black and white. It is a circular design, one circle joining the other, with each circle being further broken up into patterns, each with a significant motif and special name.

The central round motif like a dot is believed to be e bee which flies around the lotus flower sucking its honey. The four petals on the side of the dot are known as the ‘moil’ the most tender part of the lotus bud.

The half open circular designs are known as the khoi mayek which means a fishing hook. The W shaped design in the bow. The border is called the tendwa.

Hijai mayek is embroidered in black and white, and is worn by widows, elderly women and at funerals. It shows running lines and circular movements. Other motifs used are battle scenes, swords etc.

Other fabrics to be embroidered besides the phanek are:

1) Zamphie - war cloth worn by warriors at the time of war, used by a few people. It was honored by the king.

2) Ningthoupee - kings cloth

3) Saijomba - long coat worn by trusted courtiers of the king, which had special embroidery

4) Phirananba: These are the small flags delicately embroidered and used by the warriors as plumes on their turbans, each designated the rank.

5) Kumil or ras shirt

The stitches used in embroidery are the satin stitch and the Romanian stitch.


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    • Vibhavari profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from India

      Hi kakoli das,

      I have included information on both hijay mayek and akyobi in my hub. I agree that most traditonal Indian embroidery is is in a sad state of neglect. If you do want some detailed information on textiles and Indian embroidery, try getting in touch with any Home-science college or University for eg SNDT University, or SNDT college of home science. There are some Home-science colleges in Pune, Mumbai, Ahemdabad and Hyderabad. Though I do not have all the contact details myself you can locate them on the internet. THey should be able to help as they include this topic as a part of their syllabus.

      Hope this helps.

      Have a nice day.

    • profile image

      kakoli das 

      10 years ago

      Dear Vibhavari,

      I am looking for information on manipuri embroidery but not beng able to collect much as there are very few books which have documented on this embroidery which is very sad.Can you provide me with some information on it?Mostly on the motifs and color in visuals like hijay mayek and akyobi?where are they implemented(products)?The state of this craft is very bad and it is almost dead as the traditional motifs are no longer used

    • Vibhavari profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from India

      Thank you embroidery punching. It is quite simple and easy to draw and embroider.

    • profile image

      embroidery punching 

      10 years ago

      I really liked that elephant motif

    • Vibhavari profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from India

      Hi hubber-2009, thanks for stopping by and reading my hub. I really do not know of any book off-hand that I can recommend to you. All I have for my reference and knowledge is my journal from colloge days& I am sharing that information with everyone who cares to read it. But If I do come across a book on the topics you suggest, I most certainly will recommend it to you.

      In the meanwhile I do have some more information in my journal, on the subject yet to be shared. I will put up as soon as I have typed it out. I hope that will help.

    • hubber-2009 profile image


      11 years ago from India

      i want to know about embroidery design or related book.. can you suggest...


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